New Hall women’s jail in Wakefield praised by prison inspectors

HMP New Hall, Wakefield.
HMP New Hall, Wakefield.
  • HM Inspectorate of Prison publish new report after unannounced visit
  • Inspectors say women’s prison is “among best of its type”
  • But report says more needs to be done with women who present risk to public

Staff working at HMP and YOI New Hall women’s prison in Wakefield have been praised after a recent inspection.

A new report, published by HM Inspectorate of Prisons on Monday, said the Flockton jail was “among the best of its type” following an unannounced visit in June.

I am pleased that this report recognises the excellent work being undertaken by staff at New Hall

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service

Prison inspectors found that New Hall was “fundamentally safe”, clean and that there was little evidence of violent incidents.

However, the report said more needed to be done to ensure women who presented a risk to the public on release were identified and managed quicker.

The report said: “New Hall is a safe and very respectful prison which does an excellent job in providing women with a range of purposeful and vocationally based activities, and some sound support around the resettlement pathways.

“The concerns we raise about aspects of offender management are well within the capacity of the prison management to quickly resolve.”

The inspection was carried out by HM Inspectorate of Prisons in partnership with watchdogs the Care Quality Commission, Ofsted and HM Inspectorate of Probations.

The report added: “The prison is among the best of its type and we commend both the staff and management for the positive work they have done to achieve these outcomes.”

At the time of the inspection, the prison held around 360 women, including some young adults.

Ofsted, the education watchdog, rated the learning and skills provision at the prison as “Outstanding”.

Staff were praised for supporting women who were vulnerable to self-harm, those with complex needs, and for “excellent” mental health provision.

The report said disciplinary procedures at the jail were well managed and that relationships between staff and prisoners were “a real strength”.

It also praised the prison for its provision for women who had been abused.

Inspectors raised concerns about aspects of offender management and risk of harm assessments work, which was not strong or consistent enough.

The report said: “Aspects of offender management work needed to be better to ensure women who presented a risk to the public on release were quickly identified, and that appropriate risk reduction work was initiated and management action taken before they were released to protect the public. These were serious concerns which managers took on board when raised, but they needed to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.”

The Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent body which looks at conditions and treatment of those in prison, young offender institutions and immigration detention facilities.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “I am pleased that this report recognises the excellent work being undertaken by staff at New Hall.

“They are providing good quality care to a very needy population, supporting them to develop the skills they need to turn their lives around on release.”

At its last inspection in 2012, New Hall was judged to be a basically safe and respectful prison, with excellent purposeful activity and resettlement report.

Inspectors in the latest report said the prison had “improved further”, and addressed issues raised during the previous inspection about safety and respect.