Littlehey Re-Offending Programme Needs Improving

The Chief Inspector of Prisons says a Huntingdonshire jail needs to do more to reduce the risk of inmates re-offending, when they're let out.

HMP Littlehey had managed its change in population very well, but now needed to do more to reduce the risks of reoffending of its new prisoner population, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the Cambridgeshire jail.

HMP Littlehey holds 1,200 adult category C sex offenders. At its last inspection in 2011, the prison was a split site holding adult category C prisoners, including sex offenders, in one part of the prison and young adults in a separate part. In 2014 the young adults were transferred to other establishments and were replaced by sex offenders from prisons less able to deal with their offending behaviour needs. This was a fundamental change as the young adults were replaced by a new population with very different offence backgrounds, many of whom were ageing and in poor health.

The prison also had to cope with the national benchmarking process (a resources review) twice - once for its old population and once for its new. The prison was managing these changes and pressures very well.

The replacement of young adults by sex offenders meant that safety and respect issues had become less critical and greater priority now needed to be given to ensuring sufficient work, training and education was available and that offender management processes met the requirements of the new population.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • the prison was very safe and there were few violent incidents
  • prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm were generally well supported
  • arrangements for safeguarding vulnerable adults were among the best inspectors have seen and preparation for implementation of the Care Act was well advanced
  • the availability of illegal drugs was lower than elsewhere and support for prisoners with substance misuse issues was generally good
  • relationships between staff and prisoners were a real strength
  • health services were responding effectively to the growing needs of an ageing population
  • time out of cell was reasonable for most prisoners and the range of activity that was available was good 
    However, inspectors were concerned to find that: 
  • too little work, training and education was accredited and outcomes were not good enough
  • offender management and resettlement needed to improve and some offender supervisors did not have the skills or motivation to work with this group of offenders
  • too many wing staff saw prisoners as a compliant group without appreciating the wider risks to the community that some would pose on release
  • and practical resettlement services were adequate, but were due to be decommissioned when the new community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) began work shortly after the inspection and it was not clear how low- and medium-risk prisoners would be managed in future.

Nick Hardwick said:
"HMP Littlehey is a well-led prison and managers and staff should be commended on the way they have managed the substantial changes they have had to deal with. At the time of the inspection, this was still work in progress. Safety and respect were now good and necessary plans to develop the quality and quantity of activity available were progressing well.

Improving the quantity and level of qualifications that prisoners were able to obtain needed to form a large part of this. The prison needs to step up its efforts to adjust its offender management processes to meet the needs of its new population, and to ensure that all those who work in the prison see it as their job to help reduce the risk that these prisoners will reoffend after release. That is not yet the case and needs to be the priority going forward."

Phil Copple, Director of Public Sector Prisons, said:

"I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has highlighted that staff at HMP Littlehey have managed the recent population changes so well, and that relationships with prisoners are strong. This is crucial to successful rehabilitation.

As the report highlights, Littlehey is a safe prison, with low levels of violence and drug use - this is a credit to the governor and his staff. They will now rise to the challenge of progressing the Chief Inspector's recommendations and improve Littlehey even further."

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