HMP Ranby: clear improvement but many problems still to be fixed

By agency reporter
October 19, 2018

HMP Ranby, a large training and resettlement prison holding around 1,000 men in north Nottinghamshire, had clearly improved from a drug-fuelled “state of crisis” three years ago, inspectors found in their most recent visit.

The assessment of the jail in 2015 was that it suffered from poor safety and was “in danger of being overwhelmed by illegal drugs.”

Three years on, in June 2018, according to Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, drugs remained a problem but “our findings were much more encouraging. It was clear to us that a significant amount of work had been undertaken to improve the establishment across a range of issues.”

The assessment of safety had risen one level from ‘poor’, the lowest assessment, to “not sufficiently good.” Mr Clarke said safety had remained insufficient despite “the very considerable initiative on the part of managers and staff to try to make the prison safer.”

The prison was also assessed as “not sufficiently good” for its rehabilitation and resettlement work. However, in the areas of respect and purposeful activity, including training and education, it was found to be reasonably good. Purposeful activity had improved since 2015.

About a fifth of prisoners still felt unsafe but this was now more broadly reflective of perceptions in similar prisons. Recorded violence had increased marginally but most of it, with a few exceptions, was minor. Again, levels of violence now reflected more closely those in other similar prisons. As in 2015, much of the violence was related to drugs and associated debt. Two-thirds of prisoners thought drugs were easy to obtain in the prison.

Balanced against this, Mr Clarke said, the prison had “a very good understanding of the challenges it faced and significant efforts were being undertaken to target anti-social behaviour.”

The prison was urged to ensure cell bells were answered in a timely manner. Inspectors noted that self-harm was increasing, linked to drug and debt issues, and recommended improvements in the care and management of prisoners in crisis. Staff-prisoner relationships were good and most prisoners felt respected at Ranby. Inspectors singled out ‘enabling environments’ on some of the wings in which staff and prisoners “were encouraged to develop a more collaborative approach in their everyday lives and had been trained in conflict resolution.”

Living conditions and the general environment remained good and in places had improved since 2015, though there was some overcrowding. More needed to be done for younger prisoners and to ensure those with disabilities were properly supported.

Mr Clarke said: “HMP Ranby had proven to be a difficult prison to run and still had many problems to fix. The key priority remained undoubtedly the continuing battle against drugs, which undermined everything. But that was not the whole picture. The prison was well led by a competent and effective governor, supported by a capable senior team and staff group. We observed much good practice, and an openness to innovative ideas as well as an attention to detail. The governor had sought to attend to getting the basics right and in our view the prison had unquestionably improved.” 

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, said: “I’m pleased that the Chief Inspector has highlighted the improvements achieved at Ranby, which are a credit to the Governor and his staff. There remains more to do and we are taking firm action to reduce drug use and violence – particularly through improved detection, searching and perimeter security. Ranby is one of ten prisons receiving additional funding to tackle violence and this will enable progress to accelerate over the next 12 months.”

* Read the report on HMP Ranby here

* HM Inspectorate of Prisons


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