HMP Ranby, HMIP Inspections

The prison was subjected to an inspection in Summer 2018. In their report the inspectors said in their introduction:

HMP Ranby is a category C training and resettlement prison located in Nottinghamshire. Holding around 1,000 men, the prison is spread over a large internal campus within a very long perimeter in an otherwise rural setting. All men held were convicted and represented the full range of offences – with very few sex offenders – and sentences, although the majority were serving between two and 10 years. We last inspected HMP Ranby in 2014, followed by a very early return in 2015. At the time we had very significant concerns for the establishment, which we considered unsafe and in a state of crisis, and which we thought at the time was in danger of being overwhelmed by illegal drugs.

We did discern some improvement in 2015, but at this inspection our findings were much more encouraging. It was clear to us that a significant amount of work had been undertaken to improve the establishment across a range of issues, and this was reflected in the improved assessments we were able to make. An example of this was in the assessment we made in the area of safety. In 2015 we considered outcomes for prisoners to be poor. They had improved but remained insufficient, despite the very considerable initiative on the part of managers and staff to try to make the prison safer.

New prisoners were generally received well into the establishment. In our survey, about a fifth of prisoners still felt unsafe but this was now more broadly reflective of perceptions in similar prisons. Recorded violence had increased marginally but most of it, with a few exceptions, was minor. Again, levels of violence now reflected more closely those in other similar prisons. As before, much of the violence was related to drugs and associated debt. Testing indicated that drug usage remained high, at about 28%, and nearly two-thirds of prisoners thought drugs were easy to obtain in the prison.

Balanced against this, the prison had a very good understanding of the challenges it faced and significant efforts were being undertaken to target anti-social behaviour. The management of intelligence was good, the prison had implemented measures to combat the drugs problem and work to incentivise positive behaviour had started. There were early signs that these initiatives were beginning to be effective. In our main recommendations we encourage and support the continuation of this vital work.

In light of the levels of violence and drug use, there was a continuing need to use formal disciplinary procedures frequently and use of force had almost doubled. We were, however, satisfied that supervision and oversight of these procedures were good and were features of the prison’s work to combat delinquency. By way of contrast, few prisoners were being segregated.

Since we last inspected, one prisoner had taken their own life. The prison was working towards the implementation of recommendations following formal investigation of this incident by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO), but more needed to be done to ensure cell bells were answered in a timely manner. Self-harm was increasing in the prison, with evidence that this was again linked to drug and debt issues. The assessment, care in custody and teamwork (ACCT) case management of those in crisis was too inconsistent and often poor, but the individuals we spoke to felt cared for. We considered the need to improve case management arrangements of sufficient importance to be included as one of our main recommendations.

Staff-prisoner relationships were good and most prisoners felt respected. It was clear that prisoners held on the prison’s smaller units were receiving better attention than those on the busier, larger wings, where the lack of any form of key worker arrangement was an omission. The development of collaborative ‘enabling environments’ on some of the wings seemed to us to be a useful and encouraging initiative, although their effectiveness had yet to be fully assessed.

Living conditions and the general environment remained good and in places had improved. There remained, however, some overcrowding in some cells. Prisoners were more positive about the food, and the ability to access the prison shop on the day of arrival was a simple but important means of mitigating the risk of debt, with all its consequences for intimidation. Consultation with prisoners was reasonably good, although more could be done to improve the applications systems and, consequently, the complaints system.

Outcomes for those with protected characteristics were reasonable overall but more needed to be done for younger prisoners and to ensure those with disabilities were properly supported. Health care provision was generally very good, except for substance misuse services, which had deteriorated. Forty-two per cent of prisoners stated they arrived at Ranby with a drug problem, 21% claimed to have developed one while at the prison, and the negative influence of drugs pervaded experiences at Ranby, making the improvement of such services a priority.

The prison’s daily routines were now more predictable and ran on time. Most men could have between nine and 10 hours unlocked and our roll checks found just 20% of the population locked up during the working day. While this latter figure was still not good enough, it was about half the number we found when we last inspected. There were sufficient work and education places for the population and the amount of vocational training had increased. Our colleagues in Ofsted found teaching and learning to be good, that productive links with employers were delivering useful outcomes and that achievement rates by learners were high. Ofsted assessed the overall effectiveness of provision to be ‘good’.

The prison’s function as a resettlement prison was not as good and evidenced serious shortcomings. The reducing reoffending strategy was not based on a needs analysis and lacked specificity. There was no action plan, so the measurement of progress and improvement to services was limited. Too many prisoners lacked an offender assessment system (OASys) assessment or sentence plan, despite many being high risk with imminent release dates, and access to supervisors was variable and reactive.

Public protection arrangements were similarly variable. Resettlement services for the approximately 80 prisoners released each month were better, with good work to support accommodation needs and effective work undertaken by the community rehabilitation company. Visits provision was reasonable but opportunities to better support family ties were missed.

HMP Ranby had proven to be a difficult prison to run and still had many problems to fix. The key priority remained undoubtedly the continuing battle against drugs, which undermined everything. But that was not the whole picture. The prison was well led by a competent and effective governor, supported by a capable senior team and staff group. We observed much good practice, and an openness to innovative ideas as well as an attention to detail. The governor had sought to attend to getting the basics right and in our view the prison had unquestionably improved. It is to be hoped that, if the team stay focused on this agenda, their hard work will soon begin to realise more clearly improved outcomes for prisoners.

 

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM
August 2018
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Ranby

To see the full report go to the Ministry of Justice web sites.These links contains the reports for Ranby from 2002 until present: