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: 18.7 (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: £32,100,000 (2011-12)*
Approx cost per prisoner place (2010): £32,015
*The annual budget allocated to the governor covers all major costs of running the prison but excludes most costs related to education and healthcare.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Sadiq Khan (Labour)
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.
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
Prison Video Link (PVL)
All prisons with video link facilities have at least one courtroom and two briefing rooms where the defendant can hold a conference with their solicitor before and, if required, after their court hearing.
If court hearings are not taking place it may be possible for solicitors, barristers and Probation Officers to hold interviews with a prisoner via video link to save having to visit the prison.
The facility is also available to assist the Parole Board in dealing with oral hearings.
It should be noted however that court hearings must take priority.
At other times, operational reasons may mean bookings are refused or cancelled at short notice.
To book the Video Link facility telephone: 020 8588 4000 ext 4498
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: 28 February – 4 March 2011 - unannounced full follow-up inspection
Report Dated: June 2011
Published: August 10th 2011
“Our last inspection of HMP Wandsworth in June 2009 was marred by an attempt to subvert the process by moving ‘difficult’ prisoners between Wandsworth and Pentonville so they were not present in either prison during the inspection. This action by managers at the prisons overshadowed the inspection findings at Wandsworth, which otherwise would have reported on good progress in a prison that had been of concern for some time.
“ There was no attempt to subvert this follow-up inspection. However, the prison’s progress had halted and overall outcomes for prisoners were significantly worse than at the time of the last inspection. In particular, the safety of prisoners held in Wandsworth is now a matter of serious concern.
“ HMP Wandsworth is a large, Victorian, category B prison serving the courts of South London. There is no doubt it holds a challenging population with multiple problems, many of whom are held for only short periods. We were told that morale in the prison had suffered after the progress made by the time of the last inspection was undermined by the prisoner swap. Nevertheless, Wandsworth compared badly with similar prisons facing similar challenges and we were concerned by what appeared to be unwillingness among some prison managers and staff to acknowledge and take responsibility for the problems the prison faced.
“ The level of self-harm and the number of self-inflicted deaths were high. There had been about 700 ACCT documents opened in 2010, 120 in the first two months of 2011 and 60 open at the time of the inspection. Typically, there were about 32 incidents of self-harm each month and about 60 open ACCT documents at any given time. There had been 11 deaths in custody between January 2010 and the time of this inspection; four of these had apparently been self inflicted. Key areas of risk were the inconsistent quality of ACCT procedures and the practice of moving prisoners who were stabilising from drugs or detoxing from alcohol out of the first night centre, where they could be closely monitored, before stabilisation was complete. We were also concerned that poor staff-prisoner relationships, the lack of a predictable regime, deficiency of association, and insufficient activity contributed to feelings of isolation and alienation that might have led to self-harming behaviour.
“ Only 58% of prisoners (against the 70% comparator and 73% at the time of the last inspection) said they had a member of staff in the prison they could turn to if they had a problem. We observed frequently indifferent and sometimes abusive staff interactions with prisoners. Prisoners struggled to get assistance with low level domestic issues or answers to simple queries. The formal application and complaints systems were overwhelmed and ineffective. Inspectors were inundated by prisoners asking for reasonable help with small things because the prison staff did not assist. The induction process was poor and many prisoners lacked basic knowledge about the routines and rules of the prison.
“ Prisoners with any sort of specific individual need were particularly disadvantaged. We found prisoners with mobility difficulties located on residential landings which did not allow them access to showers. One prisoner with a disability had been remanded at the prison for more than three months and told us he had not had a shower in that time. There was no strategy to meet the needs of foreign national prisoners. Despite the presence of UKBA staff in the prison, liaison arrangements did not appear to be effective. Many foreign national prisoners were held beyond the end of their sentence – one for three years. We were told by the independent advice service that inaccurate information had led to some detainees being incorrectly held.
“ Most cells were shared and had inadequately screened toilets. First night cells were not cleaned of graffiti; some of what we saw was racist. At best, prisoners were locked in their cells for 16.5 hours a day (but even that was not every day of the week); at worst, prisoners were out of their cells for just two hours a day. Association was often cancelled and when it did occur there was little for prisoners to do and we observed little interaction with officers.
“ Exercise in the fresh air was limited to 30 minutes a day but this was cancelled in bad weather and recreational use of the PE facilities was poor. The core day was not adhered to. There were good training opportunities in the workshops but it was disappointing to see the excellent Timpsons workshop operating at well below capacity.
“ Victims of bullying behaviour were not adequately protected. Processes to identify and respond to both individual incidents and patterns of violent behaviour and to support victims were ineffective. The level of use of force remained high and our examination of records of incidents showed that de-escalation was not always used. Reviews and records of the use of force were not sufficiently rigorous and neither we nor the prison could be assured that all use of force was proportionate and necessary.
“ The segregation unit lacked direction. The regime was poor and there appeared to be little attempt to tackle and resolve any of the underlying reasons for prisoners’ behaviour. One prisoner with obvious communication difficulties, lying in on his bed with a blanket over his head and an uneaten meal beside him, told me he would refuse to go back to normal location because he was being bullied. Segregation staff did not appear to be aware of his concerns or have attempted to resolve them and it seemed all too likely that confrontation would occur when it was time for him to return.
“ The prison did not respond adequately to the needs of the diverse population it held. In addition to the concerns about prisoners with disabilities and foreign national prisoners referred to above, black and minority ethnic prisoners were disadvantaged in significant areas of the prison and this needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Performance in other diversity strands was also weak and diversity was not visibly promoted in the prison. Health care offered a generally better picture. The Jones Unit provided a high level of inpatient care in a good environment for prisoners with a physical illness. Mental health services were good and when transfers to secure mental health units were required they were not unduly delayed.
“ In our survey, 40% of prisoners, against a comparator of 23%, said that the food was good or very good. We received few complaints about the food.
“ Resettlement was the best area of the provision and some good resettlement services were provided. Work on accommodation, education, training and employment and substance misuse was encouraging but all area of resettlement would be strengthened by a strategy based on a needs analysis and opportunities for prisoners to engage with resettlement services earlier in their sentences.
“ We were told that some resettlement services would be discontinued. It was not clear whether this was for budgetary or other reasons. This compounded disruptions or cancellations to many aspects of the prison regime, as described in this report, which were caused by staff shortages and redeployments.
“ The treatment and conditions of simply too many prisoners at Wandsworth was demeaning, unsafe and fell below what could be classed as decent. I did not detect sufficient willingness in the prison to acknowledge and address these concerns. I hope the Prison Service management will now act decisively to reverse the prison’s decline.”
Nick Hardwick June2011
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Click Here to download the full report
by HMCIP: 1–5 June 2009 - announced inspection
“This could have been an inspection report that focused on continuing progress and improvement in a prison that has, in the past, been the source of considerable concern to the Inspectorate and the Prison Service. Under the then Governor, considerable steps had been taken to change a previously resistant staff culture, increase the quality and quantity of activities, and improve prisoners’ resettlement chances. All this was evident in the course of the inspection and is recorded in the body of this report.
“However, the prison’s reputation has been seriously tarnished by the irresponsible, pointless and potentially dangerous actions instigated at managerial level, in conjunction with managers at Pentonville, whose report is also published today. Together, they planned to swap a small number of prisoners for the duration of their respective inspections – in Wandsworth’s case to remove five prisoners perceived to be potentially ‘difficult’. The consequences at Wandsworth were particularly serious. Three prisoners from the segregation unit and two from the vulnerable prisoner wing were summarily told on the weekend before the inspection that they were to move to Pentonville. One was new to prison and already identified as in need of protection. Two others would miss medical appointments for serious conditions. Both were so distressed that they self-harmed. One, with a previous history of self-harm, tied a ligature round his neck, cut himself and was forcibly removed from his cell. He was taken to reception, bloody, handcuffed and dressed only in underwear. He attempted self-harm a further three times immediately after his move to Pentonville. The other took an overdose of prescription drugs and needed to go to hospital. On his return, he was nevertheless later taken by taxi to Pentonville. Those men, and two of the other transferees, were returned to Wandsworth immediately after the inspection was over.
“These actions were a dereliction of the prison’s duty of care to prisoners. Every prison in the country knows that prisoners are particularly vulnerable to suicide in the days immediately after they move to a new prison. Wandsworth managers had particular reason to know this, as prisoner transfers without notice was something that was highlighted by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman in relation to a previous death in custody in the prison. The Ombudsman is now separately investigating the self-inflicted death of another prisoner moved to Pentonville, following a court appearance, in the week before the inspection, and held there during the inspection before being returned to Wandsworth.
“In terms of the effect on the inspection, the prisoner transfers were completely pointless. It is impossible that the views of five prisoners (one of whom had previously contacted inspectors and four of whom have now been separately interviewed) would have influenced the inspection. Indeed, the transfers have had the opposite effect, casting doubt on the governance of the prison and the commitment, at senior level, to the safe and respectful treatment of those in its care.
“The considerable efforts over some time to improve Wandsworth will inevitably be overshadowed by these events, sadly for the many staff and managers who have worked hard to achieve this. The body of this report records those positive changes. First night and induction procedures had improved, as had prisoners’ relationships with staff. There was some positive work on race, though work with foreign national and disabled prisoners was underdeveloped. For a local prison, there was a commendable amount of activity, with some good quality vocational training, and prisoners were out of their cells for a reasonable amount of time. Resettlement work was also developing well, with some good local and community links, though the needs of short-term and remanded prisoners (a considerable percentage) were not systematically met.
“However, this inspection will instead be remembered for the unacceptable attempts, at managerial level, to subvert the inspection process at the expense of prisoners’ well-being. This is deplorable, not only because of the effects on individuals, but because of the underlying mind-set: that prisoners are merely pieces to be moved around the board to meet performance targets or burnish the reputation of the prison. Those involved in the decision and its implementation not only lost sight of their primary duty to those in their care, but also sent a message to more junior staff that prisoners’ wellbeing is negotiable – and this in a prison which had been struggling to change a negative staff culture, and where the levels of use of force by staff are still of concern. Both the actual consequences and the approach that gave rise to them are necessarily reflected in our assessments. This should never happen again; and it is welcome, though it should not have been necessary, that the Director General of the National Offender Management Service has instructed Governors to that effect.”
Anne Owers September 2009
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Click here to read the full report
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