HMP Rye Hill, HMIP Inspections

The prison was last inspected in September 2019. In their report latest the inspectors said:

MP Rye Hill is a relatively modern category B training prison in the West Midlands. Capable of holding up to 664 convicted adult men, the prison is operated by the private contractor G4S. Since 2014 the prison has fulfilled a specialist function, holding only those convicted of sexual offences. The considerable risk posed by them is most easily represented by the fact that, of the 659 prisoners being held there when we inspected, some 488 were serving sentences of more than 10 years and over 100 were serving indeterminate sentences, including life. Almost all presented a high risk of serious harm to others.

This was our first visit to Rye Hill since 2015. Although there was some variation in our healthy prison assessments, as on that occasion, this is basically an effective prison delivering good outcomes. Rye Hill continues to be a safe prison. New arrivals received good support on reception and were inducted well. The amount of violence recorded was not excessive and those incidents that did occur were not normally very serious. The atmosphere in the prison was settled and most prisoners seemed motivated to engage with the staff and the daily regime. In our survey prisoners did, however, raise questions about their own perceptions of safety, a finding worth further exploration by the prison. Similarly, the amount of force used and the number of adjudications initiated seemed misaligned with other findings and required better understanding by the prison. Self-harm in the prison was relatively high, although a relatively small number of prisoners accounted for a disproportionate number of incidents. Those in crisis suggested to us that they felt well cared for, aided in part by good peer support engagement.

Rye Hill had become a more respectful prison. Relationships between staff and prisoners were constructive and supportive, encouraged further by well managed key worker and very useful peer worker schemes. Consultation was wide ranging and although we were concerned that not all formal complaints were properly recorded, those that were, as well as general requests and applications, were mostly properly dealt with. The prison was doing some useful and encouraging work to promote diversity, including providing good support for older prisoners and those with disabilities, but despite this there was clear evidence that perceptions among some protected groups continued to be more negative. Faith provision was a strength of the prison and the quality of health provision was reasonably good.

The prison was clean and well maintained, and cellular accommodation was very good. Access to amenities such as clothing, showers and cleaning materials was similarly good. The very impressive grounds and garden areas, to which prisoners had reasonable access, were a civilising feature of the prison’s environment and was likely to have supported the sense of well-being among the men.

Rye Hill remained a purposeful place. Prisoners were unlocked for meaningful amounts of time and very few were locked up during the working day. There was good access to recreational facilities, including a valuable activity centre offering support for older, vulnerable and disabled men. Work to promote education, skills and work was not as good, with issues such as attendance and the acquisition of skills in English and maths needing improvement. Too many prisoners were not being sufficiently challenged. Our partners in Ofsted judged the overall effectiveness of education, skills and work as ‘requires improvement’, which was disappointing.

The prison was more successful in managing and addressing one of its core tasks, that of managing the risk of harm among those being held there. Almost all had an assessment of their risk and needs (OASys) and a sentence plan, and most prisoners understood what was expected of them. Offender supervisors supported by key workers ensured reasonable levels of contact, and although one-to-one interventions were limited, access to accredited offending behaviour work was better. Public protection work was satisfactory but support for the few prisoners who were released from the prison needed to be improved.

At Rye Hill we found a well-led establishment working hard to promote the well-being of its prisoners, to sustain a credible community ethos and to create a meaningful rehabilitative culture. We found some very effective outcomes and while there were gaps, there was every reason to believe that the prison was very well placed to improve still further.


Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM     October 2019  

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:



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