The Mount is ‘doing better than many similar prisons’

HMP The Mount, Bovingdon
HMP The Mount, Bovingdon

HMP The Mount in Bovingdon is ‘performing well and is better than many similar prisons’, according to a new report published today.

The Category C male prison recently opened a new 250-bed resettlement wing which was being filled as the inspection took place.

The report, published by chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick, says the facility was achieving better outcomes for the men it held than most prisons inspected recently, despite facing similar challenges and the disruption caused by its expansion.

Outcomes for prisoners were reasonably good in all the main areas inspected and there were credible plans for further improvement.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

> The prison was reasonably safe and felt calm and well ordered, even when large numbers of prisoners were moving back and forth to activities;

> Security was rigorous and intelligence about gang membership, and cooperation with the local police, were impressive;

> Reception and early days arrangements were generally good;

> Use of force was high but the incidents examined by inspectors were proportionate and well-managed;

> The environment was good and the prison was clean;

> Staff were stretched and busy but relationships were good;

> Equality and diversity work was led from the top and prisoners from black and minority ethnic backgrounds reported similarly to other prisoners about their experiences in the prison, while Muslim prisoners’ perceptions had improved since the last inspection;

> Despite staff shortages and a restricted regime, time out of cell was reasonable and consistent;

> Ofsted assessed the overall effectiveness of learning and skills and work as good;

> Public protection arrangements were very good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

> Care for men at risk of suicide or self-harm was generally adequate but some lessons from previous deaths in custody had not been fully embedded;

> The lack of telephone interpreting for new arrivals who did not speak English created significant risks;

> Too many victims of bullying sought sanctuary in the segregation unit and most were then moved out to prisons with insufficient effort to resolve their concerns;

> Prisoners said drugs and alcohol were easily available despite determined efforts by the prison to prevent this;

> Existing practical resettlement services were reasonably good but new resettlement arrangements were due to start two weeks after the inspection ended and a new community resettlement company (CRC) would take over most of the prison’s resettlement services. There was still uncertainty about how they would work; and

family work, which played a crucial role in resettlement, was weak.

Chief inspector Nick Hardwick said: “There is room for improvement at The Mount and we are confident the prison has the capacity to make it, but even now the prison is doing better than comparable prisons.

“There are some key reasons for this: the prison is very well led with a stable senior management team, the regime and staff are consistent – prisoners know what to expect; and there is excellent use made of peer workers.

“There is much that other prisons can learn from The Mount.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“I’m pleased that the chief inspector has found The Mount to be a stable, safe and well-ordered prison which is working effectively with prisoners to support their rehabilitation.

“The governor and his staff have worked hard to achieve a very positive inspection report.

“We will now use the recommendations in this report to further improve the prison, including looking at what more we can do to help prisoners to maintain contact with their children.”