Low-risk prison is condemned as ‘poor’

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A PRISON in Doncaster has been slammed by concerned inspectors as “poor” and “lacking a sense of direction”.

HMP Hatfield needed more intrusive management, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, in the latest report of an announced inspection of the jail.

Hatfield is a Category D resettlement prison which has been combined, for management purposes, with Moorland closed prison, but the prisons were very different.

The inspection did not find any evidence that outcomes for prisoners had improved as a consequence of the merger.

Management attention was consistently – and probably rightly – focused on the larger closed prison with its more challenging population so, in many areas, Hatfield appeared to be without any clear strategic direction, said the report.

Inspectors were concerned to find there was no organised induction and prisoners spent too much time in their first week hanging about with nothing to do.

Although good interactions between prison staff and prisoners were observed, discourteous and dismissive behaviour from staff was also witnessed.

Too many staff had little knowledge of the prisoners, drug use was high, and there was no evidence of an effective strategy to reduce supply. Some communal areas were shabby, with broken windows and in a poor state of repair.

However, inspectors were pleased to find prisoners said they generally felt safe, security was reasonable and there had been a welcome drop in the number of absconds. The amount and quality of purposeful activity was good, with prisoners unlocked throughout the core day, and cells were generally in good condition. Prisoners had access at all times to communal showers and toilets.

Nick Hardwick said: “This was a disappointing inspection. Hatfield was performing poorly. It needs more effective strategic direction and more intrusive management. The prison relied upon the fact it held low risk prisoners who appeared to just want to get through their sentence. At worst it meant risks were not effectively managed and at best that there was little proactive work to support prisoners in preparing for leading productive and law-abiding lives on release.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “I agree more needs to be done to improve the integration of the two prisons. More resources and staff time have been provided for resettlement and there has been a drop in drug use since the last inspection.”