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HMP Bullingdon – An Improving Prison

November 30, 2012, 12:05 am

HMP Bullingdon generally performed well, though there were some issues of serious concern, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection of the Oxfordshire jail.

HMP Bullingdon, as a community prison, has the challenging task of combining the training function of a category C prison with that of a local prison serving the courts. At the time of inspection, its population was almost 25% above its normal capacity.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • most prisoners reported decent relationships with staff;
  • the prison was generally safe, with a good alcohol and drugs strategy and effective action to prevent illegal drugs coming into the prison;
  • measures to support prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm were good;
  • there had been some improvement in the quality and quantity of work, training and education available, though more was required;
  • there was a good and up-to-date strategy to prepare prisoners for release, with practical support for issues such as housing and employment; and
  • the range of programmes to address prisoner behaviour was impressive, and there was an innovative system to manage the behaviour of prolific offenders.

Inspectors were, however, concerned to find that:

  • there were repeated concerns about the behaviour of a very small minority of officers;
  • documentation relating to the use of force was not always completed and a body belt and improvised hood had been used on one prisoner;
  • prisoners had little confidence in the system for making complaints about staff;
  • more than a third of prisoners were locked in their cells during the working day; and
  • while the shortage of activity places was largely outside the prisons control, it should have addressed the quality of teaching and instruction.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Bullingdon was an improving prison. Most prisoners had a reasonable experience. They were held safely in decent, if cramped, accommodation. Relations between staff and prisoners were generally positive. Most had some activity to occupy them. There was some good practical support to help prisoners with resettlement. Other than the lack of activity, the exceptions to this generally positive picture were relatively few – but they were very serious and undermined the work of the prison as a whole. These need to be addressed as a matter of urgency so that this community prison can achieve its full potential.”

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

“I am pleased with HM Chief Inspector’s overall conclusion that Bullingdon is an improving prison with generally positive relationships between staff and prisoners. We are committed to running safe and decent prisons that support rehabilitation. The issues of concern identified by HM Chief Inspector are being robustly addressed by the Governor.”

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