Peterborough Prison Praised By Inspectors

Peterborough prison is being praised by inspectors, for being better than most other local jails.

HMP Peterborough was undertaking excellent and innovative work to resettle prisoners prior to and on release, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the men's local prison.

HMP Peterborough holds both male and female prisoners. The male and female parts of the prison are separated but both are on a single site and have the same senior management team, with some staff moving between the two prisons. This is unique in England and Wales. Inspectors reported on the women's side of the prison in 2014. This inspection concentrated on the male side. The previous inspection in 2011 found an improving institution and inspectors praised some innovative work to resettle prisoners on release. This more recent inspection describes a prison which has produced very good outcomes and which has continued to make progress, although they needed to improve the provision of work, training and education.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

- management of resettlement provision was strong and there was a clear commitment throughout the prison to provide the support whereby men could address their offending behaviour;
- the Link centre within the prison provided a range of resettlement advice and practical support and the newly opened Outside Links, based in Peterborough, was groundbreaking in continuing this support after release;
- more men than at similar prisons reported feeling safe and support on arrival was good;
- there was robust action to challenge low level poor behaviour;
- support for prisoners vulnerable to self-harm was good and excellent arrangements were in place to manage those with complex needs;
- substance misuse services were very good;
- excellent relationships between staff and prisoners underpinned much that was good about the prison;
- living conditions were generally very good; and
- time out of cell was good overall.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

- despite good support for prisoners at risk of self-harm, there had been four self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection in 2011;
- use of force was well managed, but somewhat high and vigilance was needed to ensure that it was used proportionately;
- although equality and diversity work was good, black and minority ethnic, Muslim and disabled prisoners reported less positively in some areas; and
- purposeful activity was relatively weak.

Nick Hardwick said:

"Overall, Peterborough is an impressive local prison with a positive staff culture which emphasises decency and professionalism. Resettlement work is cutting edge and the prison has advanced plans to develop this further when the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) is introduced in April 2015. Peterborough provides a basically safe environment where poor behaviour is robustly and appropriately challenged. All of this should assist and support the further improvements in purposeful activities that are needed. Peterborough is already better than most local prisons we have inspected in recent years, and is well placed to provide an exemplar to other similar institutions across our healthy prison tests."

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service, said:

"Overall this is a very positive report. Peterborough is a very well-run prison which does a great deal to keep prisoners safe and to help them turn their lives around.
 
"As the Chief Inspector has recognised, offenders at Peterborough are being given a high level of support as they prepare to reintegrate into their communities, which is an essential factor in reducing the risk that they will reoffend.
 
"A new activity building which provides more opportunities for education, work and training will address the shortfalls in purposeful activity."  
 
"The Director and his staff deserve a great deal of credit for their achievements. They will address the recommendations in the report to further improve the prison."

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