Ministry of Justice Performance Rating for this prison: 3
This is on a scale from 1 (serious concerns) to 4 (Exceptional) and is worked out by the Ministry of Justice taking into account 34 criteria such as overcrowding, purposeful activities etc. A score of 3 is considered a good performance. Published quarterly.
Average weekly hours of Purposeful Activity: 23.8 (2010)
This figure is supplied by each prison to the Prison Service. Actual hours are usually dependent on activities etc. and should be taken as the maximum time either in workshops or education over a whole week.
Both of these figures are published retrospectively by the MoJ and HMPS and may have changed since the figures were published but they give a simple comparison between prisons.
Annual Budget: £15,500,000 (2011-12)*
Approx cost per prisoner place (2010): £36,803
*The annual budget allocated to the governor covers all major costs of running the prison but excludes most costs related to education and healthcare.
CONSTITUENCY: Hertfordshire South West
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: David Gauke (Conservative)
Prisoners may write to either their ‘Home MP’ or the MP in whose constituency their current prison lies.
The address to write to is:
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Most prisons now have PIN phones. Your relative or friend usually needs to apply to have your name and number on his/her telephone account. You will usually receive a call from the prison to check who you are and to ensure you are happy for them to call you. Prisoners cannot receive telephone calls.
There is no restriction on who prisoners can call except in the case of calls to journalists intended to be broadcast. In some cases child protection measures may mean extra checks on who they call.
Prisoners can normally make calls only during ‘association’ periods. Some prisons limit the length of time a call can last to avoid queues and people being disappointed. Prisoners’ telephone calls are very expensive; calls to landlines now cost 10p per minute and 37.5 p to mobiles (compared to 2p in a public phone box). In most prisons the phone calls can be listened to and/or recorded.
If a prisoner is newly convicted or transferred they should be offered an immediate ‘Reception’ phone call to tell you where they are. It may take a few days for numbers to be transferred or added.
When you write to a prisoner you must include your full name and address. In most prisons the letters are searched and can be read before being given to the prisoner.
You can write about anything but letters must not be obscene, name ‘victims’, or be a threat to discipline or security. Do not enclose any items with letters. Make sure you put sufficient postage to cover the costs (anything bigger than A5 counts as ‘large’). Prisoners can normally receive a ‘reasonable’ number of letters per week.
If you send greetings cards these should be of reasonable size and not padded or pouched. Do not send musical cards. If you are sending more than one card put them all inside one outer envelope, this saves postage. Remember to include your full details (you could put your details on a ‘Post-It’ note stuck to the card or include a letter which has your details).
Always put the prisoner’s full name and prison number. If the person has been moved their mail will be forwarded.
On conviction or transfer a prisoner should be given a ‘Reception’ letter to write to tell you where they are.
Prisoners are given a free letter each week to post out, they can send more, but at their own expense. Some prisons allow you to send in stamps.
You can usually send in photographs but in some prisons these must not include any image of the prisoner. Child protection measures may mean that some prisoners may not receive pictures of children, unless they are their own and were not ‘victims’. If you send pictures of children include an explanatory note identifying who the children are and their relationship to the prisoner.
It is not a good idea to send cash, this can get ‘lost’ in the prison. Prisons prefer postal orders, but you could send a cheque. Make these payable to ‘H M Prison Service’, write your name on the back and also the prisoner’s full name and prison number. Any money sent which is deemed to be ‘anonymous’ can be stopped.
Money you send is paid into the prisoner’s ‘Private Cash’ account and they get access to a certain amount (depending upon IEP) each week [currently £15.50 for Standard prisoners].
For full information about visits please refer to our ‘Visit Info’ section for this prison. Visits are very important to prisoners. At most prisons you may not give any item to the prisoner. Any items you wish to give them must usually be posted to the prison, and often after the prisoner has placed an ‘application’ for authorisation to have it sent in. The items which can be posted in are very limited. Check with the prisoner first and wait until they confirm that you can post it.
If there is a serious emergency - close family serious illness, death, or other reason you need to inform the prisoner immediately, you should telephone the main prison number and explain the problem to the operator who will transfer you to the appropriate person. If you are unhappy about their response redial and ask to speak to the Chaplaincy. Prison staff will not pass on general messages but only critical and very urgent messages. You should provide full details of the prisoner including their number.
Support and Advice
There are many very good charities and agencies who offer support and advice to people with family or friends in prison. We have a special section ‘Help/Support’ which has details and contact information for many of these. Do not hesitate or feel shy about calling any of these; they are there to offer support and advice.
EMAIL A PRISONER
COMING SOON - Click here to check
This service operates at this prison. Email a Prisoner enables you to send messages to prisoners, in the UK and Irish prisons that operate the service, from any computer, without any of the hassles of writing and posting a letter, and it costs less than a second class stamp!
Your message is delivered to the prison within seconds so that it can be delivered to the prisoner by the prison staff in the next delivery.
It is free to sign up to Email a Prisoner and only takes a few seconds - all you need is an email address (EMaP can help you if you don't have an email address).
Once a member you will be able to send a message to any prisoner in the UK or Ireland, provided you know their prisoner number.
It's cheaper than a second class stamp and faster than first class mail.
Click Here for link to Email a Prisoner website
Story Book Dads/Mums
Story Book Dads/Mums operates at this prison.
The imprisoned parent records a story and a message which is then edited and enhanced using digital audio software and editors remove mistakes and add sound effects and music. Finally a CD is made, a personalised cover created, and the finished disc sent to the child. The whole service is free.
Click Here for more information
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP)
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales (HMI Prisons) is an independent inspectorate which reports on conditions for, and treatment of, those in prisons, young offender institutions and immigration detention facilities. They provide independent scrutiny of the conditions for and treatment of prisoners and other detainees, promoting the concept of 'healthy prisons' in which staff work effectively to support prisoners and detainees to reduce reoffending or achieve other agreed outcomes.
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP) is appointed from outside the Prison Service, for a term of five years. The Chief Inspector reports to Ministers on the treatment of prisoners and conditions in prisons in England and Wales.
The Inspectorate’s programme of inspection is based on a mixture of chronology and risk assessment. Full inspections run on a five or three year cycle; all unannounced follow-up inspections run on a risk-assessed basis.
Prison establishments holding adults and young adults are inspected once every five years. Establishments holding juveniles are inspected every three years. This type of inspection lasts for at least one week. The Inspectorate collects information from many sources, including the people who work there, the people who are imprisoned or detained there, and visitors or others with an interest in the establishment. Inspection findings are reported back to the establishment’s managers. Reports are published within 16 weeks of inspection. The establishment is then expected to produce an action plan, based on the recommendations made within the report, within a short period following publication.
Full follow-up inspections
Follow-up inspections are unannounced and proportionate to risk. In full follow-up inspections inspectors assess progress made and undertake in-depth analysis of areas of serious concern identified in the previous full inspection, particularly on safety and respect.
Short follow-up inspections
Short follow-up inspections are also unannounced and conducted where the previous full inspection and their intelligence systems suggest that there are comparatively fewer concerns.
Three escort inspections are conducted every year.
One month prior to each full announced inspection, an inspector will visit the establishment to plan the inspection and request a range of preliminary information. In addition, researchers will attend to conduct a confidential survey of a representative proportion of the prisoner population. Results from the prisoner survey are provided for inspectors prior to the inspection and constitute an important source of evidence.
All inspections are conducted against the Inspectorate's published inspection criteria, 'Expectations'. Expectations' are based on international human rights standards, as well as Prison Service Orders and Standards, and over all issues considered essential to the safe, respectful and purposeful treatment of prisoners in custody and their effective resettlement.
'Expectations' is the document which sets out the detailed criteria HMI Prisons uses to appraise and inspect prisons. These criteria are used to examine every area of prison life, from reception to resettlement, including;
• safer custody
• health services
• good order
The concept of a healthy prison is one that was first set out by the World Health Organisation, but it has been developed by this Inspectorate, and is now widely accepted as a definition of what ought to be provided in any custodial environment. It rests upon four key tests:
• safety: prisoners, even the most vulnerable, are held safely
• respect: prisoners are treated with respect for their human dignity
• purposeful activity: prisoners are able, and expected, to engage in activity that is likely to benefit them
• resettlement: prisoners are prepared for release into the community, and helped to reduce the likelihood of reoffending
Inspection reports are published within 16 weeks of the inspection. Prior to publication, the Prison Service (or whoever is responsible for the establishment) is invited to correct any factual inaccuracies within the report. The establishment is then expected to produce an action plan, based on the recommendations made in the report, within two months of publication. A progress report on the action plain is produced after a further 12 months.
Last Inspection by HMCIP: 4–14 October 2011 - Unannounced full follow-up
Published: February 2012
OUTCOMES FOR SAFETY HAD IMPROVED TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT THEY WERE NOW GOOD
“This is a report of our findings from a full unannounced inspection that followed-up a previous visit we made to HMP The Mount in 2009. It is a very good report that reflects significant progress in two of our healthy prison tests, respect, and in particular, safety. Reasonable outcomes have been maintained with regard to activity and resettlement.
“ Located in Hertfordshire, The Mount is large, sprawling and diverse, with many of its near 800 category C prisoners originating from the London area. The prison is a difficult prison to manage, and on our last inspection, we commented that despite the significant efforts of managers, it was difficult to ensure safety. It is therefore to the considerable credit of managers and staff, that on this inspection, we found improved outcomes for safety to such an extent that we considered them good, which is our highest assessment. In our survey, less than one in 10 prisoners said they felt unsafe, which was significantly fewer than at comparator prisons and when we last inspected.
“ The installation of high level netting at strategic points around the perimeter had impeded the flow of drugs in to the establishment and far fewer prisoners now believed it was easy to access illicit drugs than before. A prisoner’s reception in to custody was reasonably well managed despite some delays, which were seemingly a consequence of recent changes to the escort contract. Arrangements to address the risk of self-harm were effective. Considerable efforts had been made to confront violence and bullying and there was clear evidence of this. Use of force remained unchanged and use of special accommodation was higher than expected, but in all other respects, the number of violent or anti-social incidents was not excessive in light of the size and composition of the population.
“ Despite our previous criticism and the extent of the challenge, it was commendable that the establishment had sought to address its difficulties not through a reactive and simplistic resort to more restrictive rules, but instead by taking an approach that was measured and proportionate. This was best exemplified during exercise and main movement, where prisoners effectively had free access to the prison grounds. Supervision was thorough but unobtrusive, the atmosphere was relaxed and staff-prisoner relationships appeared reasonably good.
“ The standard of the environment and accommodation was reasonably good. However, it was disappointing to see that a number of additional cells for single use were being doubled, which we were told was a consequence of the need for space following the public disorder of August 2011. Another exception to this generally positive picture was Howard wing, where poor standards and instances of indifferent staff attitudes stood in sharp contrast to the rest of the prison, a matter which should be addressed without further delay.
“ The prison had worked hard to address the needs of a diverse population. More than half of all prisoners were from a black or minority ethnic background and about 200 were foreign nationals. Provision for minority groups was generally good, which included meaningful prisoner representation and consultation. The perception of black and minority ethnic and foreign national prisoners was broadly positive across a range of indicators, although this did not extend to Muslim prisoners, many of whom held more negative views which the prison needs to understand and explore further.
“ Most prisoners, particularly those engaged in activity, had acceptable amounts of time out of cell at about nine hours a day during the working week. Despite this, and the fact that there were broadly enough activity places to meet the needs of the population, we still found about a quarter of all prisoners locked in cells doing nothing during the working part of the day. Arrangements to coordinate the allocation of activities based on sentence planning needs were commendable but too slow, leaving prisoners idle while they waited. Too many prisoners were recorded as unemployed.
“ The findings were more encouraging for those engaged in activity. About a third of prisoners were attending well-equipped education classes and achieving reasonable standards in what was an improved curriculum. There was a good range of vocational training, again with good standards and meaningful opportunity for progression. Educational outreach, as well as distance learning and Open University courses, were well supported. Work opportunities were available although too much of it was menial, and in some workshops it was evident there was not always enough to do. Overall the activity on offer was reasonably good, but as a training prison, expectations are higher and it was clear that more was required.
“ More is needed to be done with regard to resettlement. Outcomes were reasonable, but it was concerning that there remained no meaningful assessment of need. Coordination and strategic management were lacking, while the quality of offender supervision and sentence planning required improvement. Work in respect of the reintegration pathways was mixed, with some very good work in relation to children and families, drugs and health care but evident weakness in respect of some of the other pathways, most notably offending behaviour programmes. However, the development of community partnerships that had yet to come to fruition was encouraging.
“ The Mount is a much improved establishment and despite our previous criticisms, managers had clearly held their nerve and staff were more confident. The prison is now a much safer place, which has been achieved while maintaining reasonable levels of respect. Further work needs to be done to maximise the use of activity and regime resources, and the prison needs to energise its approach to resettlement. It should, however, approach these ongoing challenges with confidence.”
Nick Hardwick December 2011
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Click Here to read the full report
by HMCIP: September 2006 (unannounced Full Inspection)
“The Mount is a busy category C training prison with a chequered history. When we last visited in 2004, we called for decisive action from the Prison Service to remedy a failing prison that was unsafe, dirty, providing too little work and training, and failing to resettle its prisoners effectively. On our return, for an unannounced full follow-up inspection, we found a prison that had been transformed: the prison was safe, clean, purposeful and focused on resettlement. There was still more to do, but the change was remarkable.
“The Mount, like all training prisons, manages large numbers of medium risk prisoners with relatively low staff-prisoner ratios. This demands that staff are properly and confidently in control, supported by robust policies and a strong management lead. Sadly, on our previous inspection we found this to be far from the case: bullying was rife, often associated with drugs, safety procedures were poor, management was weak and prisoners and staff felt unsafe. To its credit, the prison had risen to our criticisms: a new safer custody and violence reduction strategy had been implemented, suicide and self-harm prevention arrangements were much improved and bullying had been reduced - although more focused work was needed with bullies and victims. Security had also improved: the segregation unit was unrecognisable from the appalling facility visited in 2004 and major incursions had been made into the supply of drugs into the jail.
“The improvement in the cleanliness and presentation of the prison, both inside and out, had been dramatic. Showers now had cubicles and most cells had curtains and lockable security boxes, although there were still some single cells which were doubled and had toilets screened only by a curtain, which was unacceptable. Health services had improved significantly.
“One issue that remained to be addressed satisfactorily was the starkly more negative perception of the prison held by black and minority ethnic (BME), foreign national and Muslim prisoners. As BME prisoners now constituted around 70% and foreign nationals around 40% of the population, and Muslims constituted the largest active faith group, these negative perceptions needed to be addressed urgently. We identify a number of procedural frailties regarding the management of race issues and provision for foreign nationals, but the key issue is the need for managers, perhaps with help from organisations in the outside community, to assist their predominantly white staff to ensure and demonstrate the appropriateness and impartiality of their work with their BME, foreign national and Muslim prisoner populations. The
“Mount was now a very purposeful prison with excellent education and a wide range of well managed work and training opportunities. It was also focused on its resettlement role, with a clear strategic vision, much improved sentence planning, a range of impressive offending behaviour and drug treatment courses and sound reintegration facilities. We were surprised how little use was made of release on temporary licence (ROTL) to assist with finding employment and other resettlement activities but, overall, The Mount was on the way to becoming a first rate training prison.
“It is gratifying to return to a prison that we have previously felt compelled to criticise severely and find that, in a relatively short period of time, staff and managers have been able to transform it. Inevitably there are significant issues that remain to be addressed - particularly the negative perceptions of the majority BME population - but, overall, progress at The Mount has been very impressive.”
Anne Owers November 2006
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Click here to read the full report (Large File 1MB)
Independent Monitoring Board
By law every prison and immigration removal centre must have an Independent Monitoring Board. IMBs in prisons derive their responsibilities from the Prison Act 1952 (Section 6). Prison Rules dealing with IMDs are numbers; 74 to 80
IMBs were known as ‘Boards of Visitors’ and are still referred to in the legislation under their old titles, although this is likely to change in the near future.
The Independent Monitoring Board for each establishment is made up of independent and unpaid volunteers from the local area. They monitor the day-to-day life in the establishment and ensure that proper standards of care and decency are maintained. Members have unrestricted access to all areas of the prison at all times and can talk to any prisoner they wish, out of sight and hearing of a members of staff. They visit all areas such as; kitchens, workshops, accommodation blocks, recreation areas, healthcare centre and chaplaincy.
If a prisoner or detainee has an issue that they have been unable to resolve through the usual internal channels, they can place a confidential request to see a member of the IMB. Problems might include concerns over lost property, visits from family or friends, special religious or cultural requirements, or even serious allegations such as bullying. In addition, if something serious happens at the prison, for example a riot or a death in custody, IMB members may be called in to attend and observe the way in which it is handled.
IMB members sample food, can attend adjudications and should visit people held in the segregation unit. They must also be kept informed on such issues as the use of restraints.
The IMB meets regularly, usually once per month, and has an elected Chair and Vice Chair. Members work together as a team to raise any matters of concern and to keep an independent eye on the prison.
CLICK HERE - to read the latest IMB reports for any prison.
Click on the year and then select the prison.
Information in this section has been kindly provided by the individual prison and the Ministry of Justice. This is supplemented with information from various government websites, Inspectorates and IMB reports and specialist departments within the Prison Service, government, and regional assemblies/parliaments.
Some of the data is published retrospectively: IMBs/Visiting Committees publish their reports up to 6 months after the end of the reporting period and at different times throughout the year, HMCIP publish their reports up to 6 months after the inspection. Population and performance figures are the latest published but can be considerably out of date.
Please Note: Information is constantly changing: The information on our website is regularly checked but if you have additional information, or if you believe that any of our information is incorrect or any links appear to fail please click on ‘Contact’, below.
Before acting upon any information you are advised to contact the prison directly to ensure there have been no recent changes.
Last Update: March 2012