HMIP Report, HMP Peterborough (Male)

The prison was given an inspection in February 2015, and the full report can be read by following the links below. In their report the inspectors said:

HMP Peterborough is a category B local prison holding both male and female prisoners. The male and female parts of the prison are separated but both are on a single site and have the same senior management team, with some staff moving between the two prisons. This is unique in the England and Wales prison estate. We reported on the women’s side of the prison in 2014; this inspection concentrated exclusively on the male side which held 649 men, including a small number of young adults. The male prison had opened new accommodation which, when full, would take the operational capacity to 874.

Our previous inspection in 2011 had found an improving institution which we deemed to be basically safe, respectful and purposeful, and we particularly praised some innovative work to resettle prisoners on release. This inspection describes a prison which produced very good outcomes and which had continued to improve, although there was room for more improvement in the provision of purposeful activity.

Excellent and innovative work to resettle prisoners prior to and on release was again an outstanding feature of Peterborough. Strategic management of the resettlement provision was very strong. There was a clear commitment throughout the institution to provide the conditions and support whereby men could, address their offending behaviour issues and deal with the problems that led them to offend. The Link centre within the prison was excellent in providing a range of resettlement advice and practical support; and the relatively newly opened Outside Links, based in the centre of Peterborough, was groundbreaking in continuing this support post release. Work in the resettlement pathways was strong and some excellent support was provided to assist with maintaining contact with family, friends and the outside world. Offender management arrangements were better than we normally see and a good range of offending behaviour courses were on offer. Overall, Peterborough men’s prison provided a level of resettlement support that would be the envy of many other similar institutions.

Support on arrival was good and it was notable that more men in our survey than at other similar prisons reported feeling safe. Levels of violence were a challenge but were not excessive and some extremely proactive work was undertaken to tackle problematic behaviour when it occurred. This included robust action to challenge low level poor behaviour and escalating responses for more serious rule breaking and violence. This all contributed to what felt like a basically stable and well controlled prison, although some minority groups and vulnerable prisoners still felt less secure than others. Support for prisoners deemed vulnerable to self-harm was good and excellent arrangements were in place to manage those with complex needs or who required safeguarding. Despite this there had been four self-inflicted deaths since our last inspection, and while action to address the issues raised was ongoing, this merely illustrated that continued vigilance was needed to keep all prisoners safe from harm. The segregation unit was well led and provided a progressive regime where the few long stay residents were encouraged to reintegrate back to the mainstream prison. Few men on open assessment, care in custody and teamwork (ACCT) case management for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm were held in these conditions, and then only when necessary. Use of force was well managed but somewhat high, and while most of what we saw was appropriate, ongoing vigilance was again needed to ensure proportionality and that opportunities to de-escalate were fully utilised.

Substance misuse services were very good and were helping to support prisoners with these issues, and contributing to supply reduction work. Excellent relationships between staff and prisoners underpinned much that was good about the prison and we were struck by the professionalism, commitment and decency of the vast majority of staff with whom we had contact. Living conditions were generally very good, as befitting a prison opened only 10 years ago, although some graffiti was evident. The new accommodation was excellent. Electronic kiosks provided good access to a range of information and services to prisoners, and helped to ensure that prisoners had relatively few frustrations about daily life. The provision of cleaning materials, hygiene products and kit was good, as were consultation arrangements. Prisoners were unusually positive about the food provided and canteen arrangements were adequate.

Complaints were well managed and prisoners were again more positive than in similar prisons about the timeliness and fairness of these arrangements. Equality and diversity work was good overall, with a clear commitment from managers to provide support to people from minority groups, where outcomes were either good or developing. Nevertheless, in our survey black and minority ethnic, Muslim and disabled prisoners reported less positively in some important aspects of prison life and under-identification of prisoners with disabilities meant that some needs were not being met. Health services were good overall and most services were at least in line with the community.

Purposeful activity was relatively weak compared with other areas, although we were encouraged that it was on an upward trajectory and would soon benefit from a number of improvements that were in development. Time out of cell was good overall and most prisoners had a reasonable amount of time in activities or association. However, access to outside exercise was limited and too many men were still locked up during the middle of the working day. Ofsted rated learning and skills provision as requiring improvement overall and commented on the restricted range of provision for those serving longer sentences. In particular, there was poor punctuality in education, too much teaching and learning required improvement, and outcomes in some key areas needed to be better. Nevertheless, nearly all prisoners could attend activities at least part-time, and a range of new opportunities would soon come on stream to supplement what was already offered.

Overall, Peterborough is an impressive local prison with a positive staff culture which emphasises decency and professionalism. Resettlement work is cutting edge and the prison has advanced plans to develop this further when the community rehabilitation company (CRC) is introduced in April 2015. Peterborough provides a basically safe environment where poor behaviour is robustly and appropriately challenged. All of this should assist and support the further improvements in purposeful activities that are needed. Peterborough is already better than most local prisons we have inspected in recent years, and is well placed to provide an exemplar to other similar institutions across our healthy prison tests.


Nick Hardwick                  June 2015

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons


Return to Peterborough 

The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below: