HMIP Reports, HMP & YOI Parc

The adult prison was given an inspection in the November 2019, and the juvenile establishment was inspected in April 2021. The full reports can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below. In their latest report the inspectors said:

Main (adult) Prison

HMP Parc is a category B local men’s prison holding convicted adult and young adult offenders, as well as a considerable number of prisoners convicted of sexual offences. It is a very large and complex prison, with over 1,600 prisoners at the time of this inspection. Opened in 1997, it is situated near Bridgend in South Wales and is operated under contract by G4S Care and Justice Ltd.

The prison was last inspected in January 2016, on which occasion our judgement was that safety at Parc was not sufficiently good, respect was reasonably good and the remaining tests of purposeful activity and rehabilitation and release planning were both at our highest level, good. On this occasion the judgements were broadly similar, except that we now found safety to have improved to reasonably good. These are impressive findings for this kind of prison, particularly given the challenging environment in which so many prisons have been operating over the past few years.

The improved grade in safety was a significant achievement in the current context across the custodial estate. Parc had managed to buck the trend in terms of the overall and very large increases in violence that have been recorded. We were particularly impressed by the oversight of the use of force by staff. There was a robust review process, significant managerial input and a clear determination to learn from incidents and share that learning with staff. We have recognised the whole approach to this issue as good practice, and would recommend the approach taken at Parc to others who might wish to learn from it.

As well as the decline in levels of violence over the previous two years, it was pleasing to see that there had been a recent decline in the levels of self-harm, although they were much higher than at the time of the last inspection. Nevertheless, there were some good initiatives, such as the care and support offered to prisoners on their first night in custody, and the safer custody team was working hard to derive the maximum benefit from challenge, support and intervention plans (CSIPs). It was also of note that positive rates in drug tests had declined in the past year, and measures had been introduced which may have contributed to this. While it was true that drugs were still too readily available, positive action was being taken to address the problem. Overall, we took the view that the work that had been done across various areas to improve safety – probably reflected in the early signs of improvement in several areas – was sufficient to improve our rating to ‘reasonably good’.

In our survey, over half the prisoners at Parc told us that they had a problem with their mental health. However, only 23% said that they had received help to address their issues, which was a lower figure than at comparable prisons. The demand was not properly quantified in a health needs assessment and, possibly because of this, while support was available for some needs, there were inadequate interventions and support for others. One of our key concerns arising from this inspection was that this weakness should be addressed, with a full range of therapeutic interventions to be made available for all psychiatric conditions.

A very positive feature of Parc was the quality of the relationships between staff and prisoners: 73% of prisoners told us that they were treated with respect by staff, and the key worker scheme appeared to be working well. While it was certainly the case that the prison was generally clean and well maintained, and there was reasonably good access to facilities such as laundry and showers, there was room for improvement in the area of food. In our survey, a mere 28% of prisoners said that the food was good, and less than a third told us that they always or on most occasions had enough to eat. It was good to see a prison where all meals were taken communally, but these very poor perceptions of the food, which were reinforced by our own observations, do need to be addressed.

We have explained our concerns and made recommendations to address them, and I shall only make specific mention of a few of them in this introduction as they are clearly set out in the relevant sections of the report. It is important to note that 17% of the prisoners held at Parc had been convicted of sexual offences, but intervention provision was woefully inadequate. It was certainly the case that some prisoners were transferred to other prisons to receive appropriate interventions, but given the size of the sex offender population at Parc, there should have been provision within the establishment itself.

As an inspectorate, we frequently highlight how important it is that prisoners are released to settled accommodation to begin their life back in the community. The lack of appropriate, or as we see far too often, any accommodation at all, is widely recognised as a major factor that can contribute to reoffending. At Parc, some 100 prisoners were released on average each month, and 17% of them did not have an address to go to. We saw a great deal of effort going into rehabilitation and release planning at Parc, and indeed our overall judgement in this area was that the outcomes for prisoners warranted our highest grading. However, there is a serious risk that much of this good work could be undermined by prisoners not having appropriate accommodation on their release. We have therefore made a recommendation directly to Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) that it should work with the Welsh Government to ensure that accommodation is available for prisoners on release.

Although there is a body of opinion that large prisons are inferior to smaller establishments, Parc shows that this need not be the case. In fact, I gained a clear impression of how Parc has avoided being inflexible or monolithic in its service provision, and has, in fact, used its size and breadth of resources to provide a range of services to different groups that simply could not be made available in smaller establishments. For instance, there were bespoke services for prisoners with learning disabilities or autism. There was an excellent unit focusing on veterans, and young adults had specialist provision, as did vulnerable prisoners and those with assisted living needs. Parc has, of course, also retained its international reputation for the work carried out with children and families. The result is that it does not feel like a huge establishment for the prisoners held there, and it certainly did not merit the pejorative description of a ‘warehouse’ that is sometimes aimed at large establishments.

Parc has benefitted from consistency of leadership over many years, and it was clear during my meetings with the governor, senior management and staff at Parc that they were rightly proud of what has been achieved. Of course, as with every prison, there was room for improvement, some of it urgent and in key areas, but overall this was a prison that, as we considered it, was fulfilling its core purposes and performing well. 

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
February 2020

In the Report on the juvenile wings inspection in April 2021 the inspectors said:

HMYOI Parc is a children’s unit on the same site as, but separated from, the large category B men’s training prison of the same name situated just outside Bridgend in South Wales. At the time of this visit,  it held 21   children with a capacity of about 60. We carried out a short scrutiny visit in April 2020 where we found that, despite restrictions, leaders and managers had successfully reintroduced face-to-face education and were giving children more time out of cell than at other establishments.

At this visit there was evidence of further progress in many areas. Local leaders had been proactive in recovery planning, liaising with the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to deliver consistent improvements in access to education and other activities during the previous year. This successful planning had enabled children to spend nearly 10 hours out of their cell each weekday, including 4.5 hours of education, daily exercise and evening association. This was far better than at other young offender institutions (YOIs).

Managers and staff had maintained a clear focus on the well-being of children in their care during the pandemic. Records showed that staff from all areas regularly engaged with children and,  in our survey, 94% of children said they felt cared for by staff. These positive relationships were used to encourage children to attend education, engage with their sentence or remand plan and behave well.

All children attended education and the quality of teaching was good. Children knew about their sentence plans and caseworkers carried out regular one-to-one work with children. Incidents of violence,  self-harm and use of force had reduced at the start of the pandemic and remained at a lower level as time out of cell improved.

The unit was clean and children had good access to showers, cleaning materials and appropriate equipment in their cells. Children ate all their meals together and had regular opportunities for exercise and games on the unit.

Health care was also good. Measures had been implemented to protect children from the pandemic, including cohorting, mask wearing and enhanced cleaning, and these worked well. Most services were delivered by two nurses who were very accessible and there were no waiting lists for most clinics.

Overall, outcomes for children at Parc remain better than at other YOIs. Managers have been helped by a reduced population, but that should not detract from the impressive progress they have made in all areas during the pandemic. The recovery at Parc has been quicker than at other YOIs and it is commendable that leaders were able to reintroduce the full pre-pandemic regime shortly after our visit. This report describes much good practice that could be used to inform the recovery elsewhere in the children’s estate.

Charlie Taylor
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
April 2021


Return to Parc

To read the full reports, go to the Ministry of Justice site or follow the links below:

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