HMIP Inspections of Hollesley Bay

The prison was inspected on late summer 2014, and the full report cab be read at the Ministry of Justice site, follow the links below. In his latest report the inspector said: 

HMP & YOI Hollesley Bay is an open prison in Suffolk which holds both adult men and young adult men aged under 21. Most of the men held are serving long-term determinate and indeterminate sentences. The population varies from men with only a very short time left to serve, to those subject to release by the parole board. It manages this varying population very well and provides incentives to most of the men to conform to the rules in what is a very low security prison. This is the first full inspection of the prison since 2009 and, similar to then, we found a successful prison that had risen to most of the challenges presented.

Hollesley Bay remained a very safe prison. Most prisoners told us they felt safe and this was reflected by the very few incidents of bullying and violence. Given this, it was surprising that in our survey prisoners were somewhat less secure in this belief than at the last full inspection, which may have reflected changes in the prisoner demographic rather than an increase in bullying and violence, of which there was no evidence. Vulnerable prisoners were well looked after and not routinely sent back to closed conditions, and the challenges around illicit drugs and alcohol were well managed, including the more recent appearance of Spice as the drug of choice.

The prison was a respectful place. Most of the living accommodation was decent and in good condition. While Bosmere unit was well looked after it was old and outdated and had a number of drawbacks which were difficult, if not impossible, to mitigate. It needed to be replaced. The outside grounds were excellent and the whole site was kept clean. Relationships between staff and prisoners were very strong, supported by a very good personal officer scheme. The overall environment was relaxed and supportive and focused on resettlement.

Managers had responded to our previous recommendations about keeping a focus on diversity issues, particularly outcomes for the significant number of black and minority ethnic prisoners held. Nevertheless, over a third of black and minority ethnic prisoners in our survey reported they had been victimised by staff. It was not clear from prisoners we spoke to during the inspection what was underpinning these perceptions, and most outcomes seemed equitable, but managers needed to ensure a greater range of forums were open to explore and address the concerns raised. The supportive nature of the prison meant that there were few discernible poor outcomes for the protected characteristic groups, although some structures were weak and failed to provide reassurance that no one was slipping through the net.

Prisoners were never locked up and had very good access to the pleasant outside area. Learning and skills were very strong with all prisoners engaged in meaningful activities, either inside the prison, or in the community on temporary release. The quality of this work was unusually rated as outstanding by Ofsted during this inspection. Activities were individualised, and targeted on enhancing employability opportunities on release and reducing reoffending. There was also significant benefit to the local community with a wide range of community projects being completed by prisoners on temporary release.

Resettlement provision also effectively supported work to reintegrate men back into the wider community, and reduce risk through some good resettlement pathway support. However, some key offender management work needed attention, including providing men with up-to-date offender assessment system (OASys), and release on temporary licence management needed to fully reflect recent changes to the guidelines.

Nevertheless, Hollesley Bay remained, as at the previous full inspection, an impressive open prison, from which other similar establishments could learn. It was weathering well the various challenges it faced and was providing some very good outcomes for prisoners, and the wider community. It was moving towards a merger with HMP Warren Hill, a neighbouring prison, which would, in itself, present a new set of challenges in maintaining and building on the evident strong work. As a successful institution it needs to guard against complacency and build on its considerable strengths.

Nick Hardwick                       January 2015

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Hollesley Bay


The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below:

  • HMP & YOI Hollesley Bay, Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP & YOI Hollesley Bay (26 August – 5 September 2014)
  • HMP Hollesley Bay, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMP Hollesley Bay (17 – 19 January 2012)
  • HMP Hollesley Bay, Full announced inspection of HMP Hollesley Bay (9-13 February 2009)