Inspectors Report On HMP Woodhill

Prison inspectors say the Milton Keynes jail has continued to make progress - but it's being hampered by healthcare and a lack of activity spaces.

The report - which is from an unannounced visit in November last year - highlights several areas for concern.  The main one is that Woodhill doesn't have enough activity places able to provide the necessary education, training and work for prisoners which would help them avoid slipping back into a life of crime when they're released.  There's also concerns over primary mental health services, which are descriped as poor - with inffective appointments and medication administration system and no clear healthcare governmance structures although the inspectors say this is being tackled.  They've also called for improvements to procedures to support prisoners in the early days of custody and say residential staff lack confidence in dealing with race and cultural issues.

On the positive side, Woodhill is described as reasonably safe, with little use of segregation and sound suicide prevention procedures and drug use is low.  Relationships between staff and prisoners were mostly good - and in the close supervision unit, which holds some of the most dangerous and challenging men in the whole prison system - they're said to be excellent. The Chaplaincy's also singled out for innovative work with some Muslim prisoners and resettlement work's described as reasonable.

Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Anne Owers said;  “Woodhill had largely maintained its progress since the last inspection. It is a largely safe place, providing appropriate levels of security for a very diverse population, and with improved staff-prisoner relationships. Health services remain a significant concern, and need urgent attention. The most significant deficit, however, is in activity. It is astonishing that a prison opened less than 20 years ago was built without a single workshop space – depriving many prisoners of the chance to obtain essential employability skills. Even at a time of shrinking resources, it should be a priority to remedy this.”

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


“This is a positive report which recognises the progress that has been made at Woodhill given the diverse population it holds. The Governor and his staff are working to improve purposeful activity through the introduction of a new workshop in September, and health services for prisoners with plans in place appoint two senior nursing staff.


“The work that Woodhill does means that the public are better protected. By focusing on safety, reducing substance misuse and maintaining positive relationships with prisoners, staff are contributing to the resettlement of prisoners and to reducing the chance that they will re-offend on release.”