HMIP Inspections of Bronzefield

The prison was given an inspection in December 2018, the full report can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below. In their latest report the inspectors said:

HMP Bronzefield, located in Surrey and first opened in 2004, is a prison for up to 557 women prisoners, making it the largest women’s prison in Europe. It was the first purpose-built, privately operated prison for women, and is operated by Sodexo Justice Services. In common with all women’s prisons, Bronzefield fulfils a resettlement function but holds all types of prisoners ranging from those on remand to those considered high security or, as they are termed in the context of a women’s prison, ‘restricted status’.

This was our first inspection of Bronzefield since 2015 and, as we did then, we found the prison to be an excellent institution where outcomes for the prisoners held were reasonably good or better against all our tests of a healthy prison.

 Bronzefield was an overwhelmingly safe prison. Reception was welcoming, with prisoners properly risk assessed and inducted after arrival. There was, however, evidence to suggest that the population of prisoners held had become more challenging in recent years, with many experiencing significant mental health problems. Recorded violence had increased markedly since our last inspection but most incidents were not serious. Arrangements to reduce violence and support victims required some improvements, although weaknesses were mitigated by some very strong informal support offered to prisoners. An investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO), following the self-inflicted death of a woman in 2016, had raised significant criticisms, but recommendations made by the PPO had been addressed. Self-harm among prisoners remained high, but overall the care for those in crisis was good. Staff were trained well to deal with some complex needs, which helped support a comprehensive and competent approach to safeguarding. Support for prisoners with substance misuse needs was similarly effective.

The prison provided a clean and decent environment in which to live but its key strength was the quality of staff-prisoner relationships. Most prisoners felt respected or had someone they could turn to for help. The interactions we observed were impressive. The promotion of equality was appropriately prioritised and outcomes and perceptions among protected groups were consistent. Health services were very well integrated and delivering generally good outcomes. Most prisoners had good time out of cell and there were sufficient activity places for all. Education, skills and work provision had improved considerably and was meeting need, while achievement among learners had also improved. Our partners in Ofsted judged provision to be ‘good’ with some outstanding features. Work to support rehabilitation and release planning would have benefited from a more comprehensive needs analysis but, despite this, the quality of offender management and the effectiveness of resettlement planning were good and public protection work robust.

Bronzefield seemed to us to be meeting nearly all its key objectives. There was work to do – a priority being the reduction of violence – but the overall success of the prison was built on healthy and supportive relationships and the knowledge and understanding the Bronzefield staff had of their prisoners, many of whom had high and complex support needs. In addition to the prison being a safe place, prisoners were treated with care and respect and were helped to progress through their sentence ultimately to the point of release. We leave the prison with a small number of recommendations we hope will assist in further progression and congratulate the managers and staff on what they have been able to achieve.


Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM                                         February 2019

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Bronzefield

To read the full reports follow the links below: