HMIP Inspections of Hindley

The prison was given an inspection in December 2017, and  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 Hindley is a category C prison near Wigan holding adults sentenced to up to four years and young males aged 18 to 21 serving sentences of over 12 months and up to four years. When we last inspected in July 2016, we assessed the prison as ‘poor’, our lowest assessment, in two of the four healthy prison tests – safety and purposeful activity. When we returned this time, only one of the tests, purposeful activity, was given our lowest assessment, and the prison was given improved assessments in the areas of safety and rehabilitation and release planning.

In March 2017, there was an announcement that the prison was to close later in the year, which came as a significant blow to the staff, some of whom had transferred to work at the establishment when HMP Kennett closed its gates for the last time in December 2016. However, Hindley’s closure was then postponed in July 2017 due to a rise in the overall prison population, and all the closure plans that had demanded significant senior management investment were put on indefinite hold.

Since the postponement of the closure, there had been a clear focus on improving safety at Hindley. Efforts had been made to improve the early days experience for new prisoners, and there were now dedicated first night cells. Although levels of violence remained too high, there was a promising violence reduction strategy that was beginning to show some early results. Dedicated violence reduction officers had improved the quality of investigations into incidents, and care for those in self-harm crisis was good with consistent case management. However, the root cause of the violence required an injection of capital funding and better staffing. Drug misuse remained a serious problem, and yet weaknesses in physical security had not been addressed, leaving the prison vulnerable to throw-overs. The inevitable staffing pressures created by the expected closure meant that only a minority of suspicion mandatory drug tests (MDTs) and targeted searches were conducted.

The area in which we found the least improvement was that of purposeful activity, which once again attracted our lowest assessment. The overall effectiveness of learning and skills had deteriorated and was judged to be inadequate by our Ofsted colleagues. Factors contributing to this poor outcome included a failure to address the weaknesses identified at the previous inspection. Here, again, the notice of closure had diverted the prison’s focus on improving or maintaining the effectiveness of critical aspects of learning and skills. Attendance was still low and quality improvement measures were not good enough to drive the improvements needed. At the last inspection we criticised poor access to the library. On this visit, the library had only just reopened after a five-month closure. Although prisoners now had a few more opportunities to associate outside of their cells, time out of cell was still inadequate for a category C prison, and purposeful activity is once again the subject of a main recommendation.

The lack of capital investment in the prison was still evident throughout the residential accommodation. Some cells were too cramped, ventilation was poor, and in some areas there was a constant battle with vermin. Despite this, a positive staff group worked with prisoners to keep most areas as clean as possible and many prisoners took pride in their efforts to improve their living conditions. Indeed, although we have had to make a number of criticisms in this report, we were struck by a marked change in the overall culture when we visited the prison on this occasion.

Despite the uncertainty about Hindley’s future, staff were positive and enthusiastic, displaying commitment to the governor and the prison. Relationships were good and consultation with prisoners and peer mentoring had improved. All of this went some way to mitigating other weaknesses that we found. While there had been a clear focus on trying to reduce violence and improve the run-down environment, there was a lack of strategic focus on equalities work and little recognition of diversity within the population. There were no specific policies to manage and support the significant number of young adults, or the frustrated foreign national prisoners we met during our visit. It was also telling that very few prisoners self-identified as being gay.

We found a number of improvements in the area of rehabilitation and release planning. The appointment of a family engagement worker and increased family days had strengthened the contact prisoners had with their children and families. Efforts had been made to build working relationships across the departments involved in reducing reoffending and resettlement. The lack of detailed offender assessment and sentence plans was mitigated by a more basic plan containing relevant objectives to work towards. Although cross-deployment impacted on contact time between offender supervisors and prisoners, the team held useful weekly surgeries to pick up on some of the key issues concerning prisoners. The community rehabilitation company (CRC) and other partners worked well together to draw up detailed resettlement plans.

It was clear that uncertainty about the future of the prison had undermined efforts to improve outcomes at the jail. That said, they had made some significant strides forward. The governor was heavily invested in the prison and had taken a pragmatic stance, working on the premise that he would not be able to rely on significant external support and the leadership and staff at Hindley  would have to find solutions themselves. While this was laudable, there was clearly a limit to what they could achieve on their own. The prison had been left in a state of limbo and it was unclear whether any of the investment necessary to make the prison sufficiently safe, decent and purposeful would be forthcoming. We would strongly urge that investment is made or that the prison’s future is clarified.


Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM
February 2018
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons”

Return to Hindley

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

  • HMP Hindley (628.69 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Hindley (4 –14 December 2017)
  • HMP Hindley (508.96 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Hindley (4-15 July 2016)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Unannounced inspection of HMYOI Hindley (3 – 14 March 2014)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Summary of questionnaires and interviews: Children and young people’s self-reported perceptions (13 November 2012)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Unannounced inspection of HMYOI Hindley (19-23 November 2012)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Summary of questionnaires and interviews: Children and young people’s self-reported perceptions (1-2 August 2011)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Unannounced short follow-up inspection of HMYOI Hindley (6-8 September 2011)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Summary of questionnaires and interviews: Children and young people’s self-reported perceptions (24-25 January 2011)
  • HMYOI Hindley
  • Announced inspection of HMYOI Hindley (19-23 October 2009)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Summary of questionnaires and interviews: Children and young people’s self-reported perceptions (21-22 September 2009)
  • HMYOI Hindley, Pre-opening inspection of HMYOI Hindley (3-5 March 2009)