HMP Rye Hill, HMIP Inspections

Since the prison was opened on 2001 it has been subjected to numerous inspections, which have resulted in 3 rectification notices being served on the prison, the last of these was lifted in 2010. In the latest report in 2015 the inspectors said:

HMP Rye Hill is a medium sized Category B Training Prison in Warwickshire run by G4S Custodial and Detention Services. At the time of this inspection it held just over 600 adult men all of whom, following a change of role in the summer of 2014, were convicted sex offenders. Like many prisons holding sex offenders, the population was a complex mix of serious offenders and some frail older men who needed significant levels of care. Although there were some weaknesses, in most areas the prison was performing very well. It had managed the transition from a mixed population to its current sole focus on sex offenders well. It had strong leadership and different parts of the prison worked effectively together.

The prison was safe. Early days arrangements were sound. There were low levels of violence, bullying was generally well managed and men with complex needs and those who were at risk of suicide or self-harm were generally well cared for, although levels of self-harm were high. An activity centre with a range of educational, therapeutic and recreational activities was an important resource for prisoners who found it difficult to cope on the wings or in ordinary workshops. There had been no self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection. Safeguarding arrangements were better than we normally see but the prison was not sufficiently alert to the risk of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual grooming. Drug use was low but the misuse of diverted medication was a problem. Most men said the incentives and earned privileges scheme was fair and it generally operated well.

Use of force was comparatively high but a small number of men accounted for a large proportion of incidents. Batons were not used and the introduction of body-worn cameras had had a positive effect. The segregation unit was well run but the regime was too limited for the small number of long-stayers. Substance misuse services were reasonably good. The drug recovery wing was at an early stage of development but prisoners and staff spoke enthusiastically about the value of the excellent horticulture project in the attached garden as an aid to recovery.

The external environment was also very good and the cells were in good condition. In-cell telephones and wing kiosks were appreciated by prisoners and reduced demands on staff. Men were positive about the food. Most staff-prisoner relationships were good but there were a small number of exceptions.

Work on equality and diversity issues needed attention. Although there were some good resources for older and disabled men, there were insufficient prisoner carers to help meet their practical, everyday needs. In our survey, prisoners from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and Muslim prisoners reported more negatively than the population as a whole and during the inspection prisoners with these backgrounds raised their concerns repeatedly with inspectors. Many of these concerns were not well founded but the prison needed to do more to engage with these prisoners, provide reassurance where possible and address legitimate, valid concerns.

Health care was the weakest area of the prison. Services had not sufficiently adapted to meet the needs of the new population. There were staff shortages and the available staff were not deployed efficiently. There were long waiting times for most clinics. Some aspects of medicine administration were unsafe and complaints about health care were not handled appropriately. The Care Quality Commission who formed part of the inspection team, issued a number of requirement notices. The whole prison approach that had worked so effectively in other areas of the prison’s work needed to be applied to health care, with the health care provider, commissioners and the prison itself working together to improve the service.

Most prisoners had a reasonable amount of time out of their cells but there were too many locked in their cells during the working day. The leadership of learning and skills was good. There were good systems in place to help teachers improve the quality of their teaching and there was a suitably wide range of activities available. Attendance and punctuality were very good and prisoners achieved well, including in English and mathematics. It was pleasing to see the way in which prisoners’ successes in education were celebrated. The library was a weaker area – it was too small and access was too limited.

Resettlement was a real strength of the prison. Offender management processes were among the best we have seen. All prisoners had good access to their offender supervisors and a copy of their sentence plan in a clear and helpful format and so prisoners knew what they had to do to progress. Pubic protection arrangements were sound. There was little demand for practical resettlement services as few men were released directly from Rye Hill but the prison was over dependent on just one prisoner peer worker to provide advice and assistance when it was required. Visits arrangements were good but wider work with prisoners’ families was underdeveloped. An appropriate range of programmes was offered to address prisoners’ attitudes and behaviours, including men who were in denial about their offence.

This was a positive inspection and HMP Rye Hill has some real strengths. Its purposeful activities, and offender management, both vital for this population, are better than we normally see and there is much that other prisons can learn from this. Nevertheless, in some other areas, particularly health care, the prison was not meeting the needs of its population and these areas now needed to be brought up to the same standards as the rest of the prison. 

Nick Hardwick                       October 2015

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Rye Hill

For the full report go to the Ministry of Justice web site, this section contains the reports for Rye Hill from 2003 until present: