HMP Sudbury, HMIP Inspections

The prison was given an inspection by HMIP in spring 2017. In their report the inspectors said ;

At the time of the inspection, HMP Sudbury, an open prison in Derbyshire, held 576 male category D prisoners, including a small number of young adults  (aged between 18-21 years). Nearly all men were coming towards the end of either a long determinate or indeterminate sentence. The central task of the prison was to provide men with the conditions and support they needed to prepare them for successful release back into the community. At the last inspection, we considered that the prison was failing badly in this central task, and it was good to see that this had now changed, and there was evidence of positive work to rehabilitate the men held at the prison.

The prison was generally safe with few instances of  violence, and a downward trend in the number of prisoners absconding and failing to  return from release on temporary licence (ROTL). There was a particularly good focus on ensuring men only returned to closed conditions after more serious transgressions of the rules or after a period of reflection. Arrangements for the small number of men vulnerable to self-harming were good, and security focused on the main challenges, which related to parcels containing drugs being left in the grounds, mobile telephones and other banned items. It was relevant that new psychoactive substances (new drugs that are developed or chosen to mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cannabis, heroin or amphetamines and may have unpredictable and life threatening effects) had been implicated in some recent deaths in custody, and the prison had a good focus on managing these issues and providing support to men with addictions. We were concerned, however, that not all instances of antisocial behaviour were investigated, and that support for some victims of bullying and those struggling to come to terms with open conditions was not always sufficient.

This lack of support was linked to some staff-prisoner relationships; men in our survey were more negative than the comparator about staff treating them respectfully and having someone who would help them with a problem or instigate regular contact with them. During the inspection prisoners told us this was related to a small, but influential, group of discipline staff. In addition, the personal officer scheme did not always function well. Prison leaders were aware of these issues and were taking proactive steps to address cultural issues among some staff. Nevertheless, the interactions we observed were good and it was evident that the majority of staff supported the rehabilitative ethos of the prison.

Work to support men to develop their educational and employment skills had improved, and a wide range of good opportunities were  now provided. Employment Pipelines, which provided a structured pathway to specific employment goals, was an interesting and developing initiative. ROTL was used extensively to support efforts to test prisoners’ readiness for release and prepare men for this step. A good range of ‘through-the-gate’ support was provided to this end. Offender management work had improved considerably since our last inspection and casework was generally good, and levels of contact better than we often see. Public protection work had also improved, although a greater focus on the pre-release phase was still needed. The prison had prioritised supporting men in maintaining contact with their families, and ROTL and innovative family visits were used to this end. Some of this work was made more challenging by the substantial number of men at Sudbury with only short periods of time left to serve, and who as a result could not benefit from all the useful opportunities available.

Overall, Sudbury was well led and had made significant progress since our last inspection. It was now delivering some strong support and doing much  more to achieve its main aim of providing rehabilitative opportunities for men held. There remained a small number of important issues for the prison to address, but we left confident that yet further improvement was within the prison’s capabilities.  

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM

June   2017                                                                                    

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Sudbury

To see the full report go to the Ministry of Justice web site

This section contains the reports for Sudbury from 2001 until present