HMIP Report, HMP Peterborough (Male)

The prison was given an inspection in November 2020, and the full report can be read by following the links below. In their report the inspectors said:

HMP Peterborough is a privately run, category B local prison holding both men and women. The men’s and women’s jails are separated but are on the same site and share a management team. During this scrutiny visit, the prison held just over 850 male prisoners.

We last inspected the men’s prison in July 2018, when we assessed outcomes in safety as not sufficiently good, respect and purposeful activity outcomes as reasonably good and rehabilitation and release planning as good. Our revised methodology to assess outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic does not include making judgements for each test as we would at a full inspection, but we have agreed several key concerns and recommendations to help the prison through the next phase of recovery.

Subject to the same HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS)  control as public sector prisons, the prison had introduced a range of centrally-mandated measures to limit the spread of the virus. Indeed, there had been no positive tests recorded for prisoners since the start of the restricted regime, and the number of staff testing positive was low. Prison leaders had quickly established a structure to communicate information, design cohort arrangements and deliver a restricted regime. The prison was taking a very cautious route to recovery, which meant that some improvements had been slow to materialise.

Work to support prisoners in their early days had improved recently,  and an enthusiastic team of prisoner peer workers now delivered face-to-face induction to new arrivals. However, until very recently, prisoners had not been issued with kettles, and there had also been problems sourcing basic provisions,  such as pillows and toiletries.

The prison’s recorded data demonstrated a reduction in violence since the commencement of the restricted regime. Despite this, our survey indicated that around one in four prisoners felt unsafe, and a notable number said they had been victimised. There were several systems to identify and support vulnerable prisoners, but it was clear they were not always robust enough to detect everyone who needed help. During our visit we spoke to a few prisoners who clearly had some unmet needs. We also found that some safeguards were insufficient to identify and address underlying issues. For example, although key work (see Glossary of terms) was prioritised for prisoners who had been identified as vulnerable, staff interactions with them were often superficial and did not encourage discussion of their concerns.

Living conditions were generally clean and tidy, although the limited time out of cell and some procedural problems meant some prisoners found it difficult to keep themselves or their cells clean. Prisoners were consulted about minor issues affecting their daily lives, but actions from consultation meetings were carried over from meeting to meeting and, in some cases, were not resolved. Equality work had not been prioritised during much of the restricted regime,  although it had started to gather some momentum recently. Again, the quality of the prison’s engagement with prisoners from protected groups was basic and did not really explore the issues affecting them. The health care manager was clearly committed to improving health services for prisoners,  but the 40-week waiting list for dental treatment required urgent attention.

Prisoners who were not allocated to essential work had very limited time out of cell, and were fatigued by the amount of time locked in a small cell with very little to do. The director’s priority was to ease restrictions so prisoners could take part in purposeful work rather than unlock them when they had little to do. Despite this, only a third of prisoners could go to work, much of which was based on the residential wings. Unlike other prisons, Sodexo employed the education staff directly and they had remained on site throughout the restrictions providing   some education for around 130 prisoners, albeit mostly in cell.

The prison had retained a reduced library service through a book trolley,  and PE instructors provided some circuit training on exercise yards, though neither were provided consistently as the relevant staff were often cross-deployed to other duties. The indoor gym had reopened very recently which had improved opportunities for some prisoners.

Rehabilitation and release planning had been a strength at the last visit,  and some elements of this work remained in place and had developed further. Partnership working with Nacro had resulted in the purchase of accommodation in the city centre that prioritised prisoners leaving Peterborough. Despite this, a third of prisoners leaving the prison had no settled accommodation to go to. Gaps in public protection work also created some risk, particularly in multidisciplinary work and monitoring the calls of some dangerous prisoners.

Leaders at Peterborough assured us that recovery plans (see Glossary of terms) to move into phase two of the national strategy were complete and would provide a much more purposeful regime. Given that the prison has remained mostly virus-free for eight months, we would encourage it to implement these plans as soon as it is safe to do so. This report contains several key concerns and recommendations that we hope will help it to prioritise its work as it enters  this important next stage.

Charlie Taylor
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
January 2021

Return to Peterborough 

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