HMIP Reports, HMP & YOI Parc

The adult prison was given an inspection in the November 2019, as was the juvenile establishment. 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

Report on the juvenile wings inspection in November 2019 the inspectors said:

HMYOI Parc is a children’s unit within the same site, 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 inspection it held 39 children, and had capacity to hold around 60. The establishment, in common with other young offender institutions (YOIs), is inspected more frequently than most prisons, and was last inspected in October 2018.

This was a very positive inspection. The grades awarded were the same as at the last inspection, but that does not mean that this was an establishment that was either failing to make further progress or was ‘resting on its laurels’. We found that it was reasonably good in our tests of safety and resettlement, and good, our highest grade, in care and purposeful activity. To maintain these high standards in the challenging environment of children’s detention reflected very well on the leadership and on the teamwork and hard work of all who were responsible for achieving these results.

In terms of safety, there is clear potential for the grade to improve to good in the future. The processes to support such an improvement were in place, but at the moment the levels of violence were still too high for this to happen.

Coming into custody, particularly if it is for the first time, can obviously be an unsettling and very disturbing time for a child. It was good to see that considerable attention had been paid to this at Parc.  For instance, information about new arrivals was received in advance, enabling staff to prepare. Moreover, whenever possible, when a child arrived he would be met by his allocated key worker, so that there was a degree of continuity and consistency during the journey into custody. It was notable that the overwhelming majority of children told us, in our survey, that they felt safe during their first night at Parc.

The positive relationships between staff and children underpinned much of what had been achieved at this establishment. We saw many good examples of positive interactions between staff and children, and this was particularly noticeable in the education sessions. I was particularly pleased to see that all meals were taken communally, which marked a complete reversal of the situation I have seen at some other comparable establishments where this hardly ever, if ever, happens. It was a pity that the food itself was very poorly regarded by the children, and in our view was simply not good enough.

Not only were communal meals a very positive aspect of life at Parc, but the daily regime for the children was also in stark contrast to what we have seen elsewhere. During our roll checks, taken during the school day, we found that all of the children were out of their cells. When this fact was combined with the extremely positive findings of our colleagues from Estyn about the quality and delivery of education, it was inevitable that our grade for purposeful activity would remain as good.

The children at Parc were drawn from a very wide catchment area, with less than half coming from Wales. As such, there were bound to be challenges in providing effective resettlement, and we felt that more needed to be done to refocus the strategic direction and management of this work. This therefore became one of our four key concerns arising from this inspection. There is obviously a balance between what an individual prison can achieve in this respect, and those issues for which it is dependent upon the efforts of other partners and agencies. Experience tells us that resettlement needs consistent and persistent work to achieve results, and it was reassuring to see that Parc was putting pressure on partners in the community to provide for the resettlement needs of children on their release.

 Despite the overwhelmingly positive findings of this inspection, we had concerns, such as the fact that for some children there were still delays in enabling them to make phone calls during their first few days in the prison. There were also poorer perceptions of the fairness of the incentives and earned privileges scheme from black and minority ethnic children, and the reasons for these perceptions needed to be understood. There was also a concern that child and adolescent mental health services were not delivering treatment and interventions in line with national standards.

However, these concerns should not be allowed to overshadow the work that was delivering good outcomes for the children being held at Parc. We found many examples of good practice that are set out in section 5 of this report, some of which have been mentioned above, but which in addition include the management and support for victims and perpetrators of violence, the help given to children to stay in contact with their families, the presence of dedicated nurses on the children’s unit and the help given to children to work towards achieving their sentence targets.

Overall, Parc is easily the best performing YOI in England and Wales. It has the advantage of being smaller in size than some of its comparators, but that should not be used by others as an excuse for not taking full and proper notice of what has been achieved. In recent times we have had to publish some troubling findings from our inspections at other YOIs. I would suggest that there is much to learn from Parc, and that practitioners and others involved in the development of policy and delivery of operations in children’s custody should pay close attention to this report.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM
November 2019
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Return to Parc

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