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: 19.6 (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: £26,100,000 (2011-12)*
Approx cost per prisoner place (2010): £35,584
*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: Andy Slaughter (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.
EMAIL A PRISONER
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, from just 25 pence per message.
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
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 3200 ext 3623
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: 20–24 June 2011 - announced inspection
Report Dated: September 2011
Published: November 2011
“Wormwood Scrubs is probably the most famous prison in the country, its image produced in countless dramas and documentaries. A large TV crew was in the prison on a day I visited, filming an episode of a popular crime drama, and incidentally, earning the prison a useful fee to put towards its activities.
“ Of course, the reality behind the image is much less glamorous than many TV programmes suggest. This report picks out the challenges its population of some 1,200 men presents. At the time of our inspection, almost half the men were unconvicted and held on remand. A third of those sentenced had less than six months to serve. On average, the prison reception processed 1,200 men (equivalent to the total size of the population) moving in and out of the prison each week.
“ Two out of five prisoners were foreign nationals and under a quarter of these had English as their first language.
“ The mental health in-reach team looked after more than 50 prisoners with the most severe and enduring mental illnesses, and 14 prisoners had been transferred to specialist mental health services in the six months before the inspection. However, many more prisoners with less acute or treatable mental health problems needed support.
“ Almost 300 prisoners were receiving interventions from the drug and alcohol team. There were 232 prisoners waiting for literacy classes and 72 for numeracy.
“ Sixteen per cent of prisoners entered the prison without accommodation. Twenty per cent of prisoners had debts they were very worried about. Just under half thought they would have trouble finding a job when they were released.
“ These are not untypical challenges for a big local prison in London or elsewhere, but the progress recorded in this follow-up inspection needs to be seen in the context of those challenges. It was, therefore, pleasing to see that the prison was safer than at the time of our last inspection. There were some supportive first night and induction arrangements and although violence and anti-bullying procedures needed development to ensure more vulnerable men were not victimised, more prisoners reported feeling safe than at the time of the last inspection. There had been a number of deaths since the last inspection and the prison had a good focus on learning the lessons that arose from these. It was welcome that a Listener scheme had been reintroduced.
“ The segregation unit was well run but with a sparse regime not only for those who were there as a sanction but also for those who were segregated for their own protection. There was good work both to reduce the supply of drugs through effectively targeted security measures and to reduce demand by good treatment and support. About one in ten prisoners tested positive for drugs in random tests, which was still too high but significantly reduced from before.
“ Relationships between staff and prisoners were reasonably good but lacked depth with no scheme for named officers to have responsibility for overseeing the progress and welfare of individual prisoners. The prison was generally clean but a few cells were in very bad condition: shared, covered in graffiti, with poorly screened toilets, broken windows patched up with cardboard or plastic and sheets used as curtains. Most prisoners could not wear their own clothes and there was sometimes an inadequate distribution of prison issue clothing with shortages of socks and underwear.
“ Health care was generally good but mental health services were overstretched. There was some energetic work on diversity but black and minority ethnic prisoners had worse perceptions of the prison as a whole and there was some evidence that they were adversely overrepresented in some disciplinary processes without an adequate explanation. The prison worked hard to manage its large foreign national population effectively and while there were some issues that needed attention, foreign national prisoners reported relatively positively on their treatment. Almost one in ten of the prisoners identified to us that they were of a Traveller or Gypsy heritage – a very significant over-representation of people from that background compared with the population as a whole. There was no attempt to identify and meet the needs of this population in the prison and the wider issues behind this over-representation need to be better understood and addressed in the community.
“ As with most other local prisons, prisoners simply spent too much time locked in their cells with nothing productive to do. We found two out of five prisoners locked in their cells in the working part of the day and opportunities to socialise with other prisoners or carry out domestic tasks were very limited. There were some promising plans to improve the learning and skills provision but these were still at a very early stage. There were insufficient activity places but those that were available were not well used. Attendance at vocational training was unacceptable at 55%. Some of the courses run were not geared to the short time many prisoners spent in the prison. The prison could not meet many prisoners’ basic need for help with reading and writing. Overall, there was too little opportunity for prisoners to acquire the habits, skills and experience that might improve their prospects of getting and holding down a job on release.
“ Other aspects of resettlement were much more positive. The prison took a realistic view of what could be achieved and what would be better done for some prisoners when they moved on to a training prison. A custody action planning system for short-term prisoners had just been introduced and the prison had invested in a senior operational manager to support this by developing links with community resources in the main London boroughs to which prisoners were released. This process needed more development and probably more resources, but it was a welcome and innovative approach that should be of interest to the wider prison system. Good work was done to support prisoners with the practical needs they would have on release including an excellent job club. In rather surprising contrast, arrangements to help prisoners maintain contact with their families and children were not good. However, during the inspection a new visitor centre was opened and it is hoped that this will mark an improvement.
“ Wormwood Scrubs has risen to some formidable challenges. It is an improving prison that has now got many of the basics right and has some innovative plans to address those areas that still need improvement. It is a safer and more decent place than in the past but it now needs to ensure that its plans for learning and skills and resettlement achieve a similar improvement.”
Nick Hardwick CBE September 2011
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Click Here to read the full report
by HMCIP: June 2008 (Unannounced Full Inspection)
“This is the fourth inspection of Wormwood Scrubs since I became Chief Inspector in 2001. The first three inspections charted slow but steady progress in a prison that had previously raised serious concerns about abusive behaviour by staff towards prisoners. This inspection confirmed that there was no evidence of an abusive or negative staff culture. However, disappointingly, it also found that progress had been halted and, indeed, that there had been an appreciable drift in all our key areas – safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement. This is a direction of travel that needs urgently to be reversed.
“Wormwood Scrubs, like many other large local prisons, operated under considerable pressure. It was taking in around 300 prisoners a week, and over the previous 12 days had received 240 men new to the prison, often arriving late. Shortage of staff created further pressure.
“We had no concerns about the management of areas that had previously been of particular concern: the segregation unit was well run and use of force appeared proportionate and was well monitored. The very large wings were visibly controlled, which created a calm environment, but one where staff were somewhat distant (and where we heard on occasions some inappropriate language used about prisoners). The quality, if not the quantity, of education and activities had improved since the last inspection.
“However, overall we found that the prison was no longer performing sufficiently well in relation to safety. Reception, first night and induction procedures were not sufficiently supportive or consistent, and staff involvement in these key areas was limited. We identified particularly unsafe practices in relation to those prisoners withdrawing from drugs, who were not always able to access the excellent detoxification service available, even when they were identified as at risk of suicide or self-harm. In general, the practical operation of the newly established integrated drug treatment system (IDTS) was unclear, and in some cases unsafe.
“There were some good initiatives in relation to violence reduction and suicide prevention. However, there were too few Listeners, and reviews of those at risk of self-harm needed improvement. The incidence of drugs – one in five mandatory drug tests were positive – encouraged intimidation and gang activity, and the prison’s anti-bullying work was underdeveloped. As a consequence, 44% of prisoners said they had felt unsafe in the prison.
“We observed some positive interactions between staff and prisoners. But in general, staff were insufficiently proactive, and did not appear to know their prisoners. Entries in wing history sheets were poor, and in effect there was no personal officer scheme. Residential staff involvement in aspects of prisoner care and rehabilitation – such as diversity and resettlement – was weak, and there was considerable evidence of regime slip and late arrivals, or failures to arrive, at activities. Some parts of the prison, and some cells, were dirty and cramped. Healthcare was in general improving, but in a large local prison it was disappointing that mental health services were under-resourced.
“There had been improvements in the quality of education and training, but there simply was not enough of it, and this was exacerbated by the fact that classes and workshops were only around three-quarters full. Around half the prisoners, at any one time, had nothing to do. Time out of cell was also poor and applied inconsistently across the wings. The prison’s own recorded output of nine hours a day per prisoner was unrealistic: in fact, many prisoners were not unlocked at all until lunchtime.
“Resettlement was the prison’s strongest area, with some good partnership initiatives with voluntary sector organisations, and a strong offender management unit. However, there was no clear strategy linking all these initiatives, no needs analysis, and too little integration. There was effectively no custody planning for short-term prisoners, the great majority of the population.
“Like all local prisons, Wormwood Scrubs was subject to constant daily pressure and it required considerable work by both managers and staff simply to ensure its successful day-to-day operation. However, this inspection identified some gaps and risks in significant areas which required a stronger management grip, and greater involvement by residential staff. If these areas are addressed, however, there is no reason why the prison cannot resume the progress we identified in previous inspections.”
Anne Owers August 2008
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: December 2013