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: 25.9 (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: £13,600,000 (2011-12)*
Approx cost per prisoner place (2010): £42,813
*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: Dorset South
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Richard Drax (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
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
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:
3-5 April 2012 Unannounced short follow-up inspection
Published: August 2012
Continuing Progress but concern over important safety recommendations
“Portland, located in a relatively remote part of Dorset, has operated, since its change of function in April 2011, as a combined adult category C training and YOI young adult facility. It has a capacity of 505.
“Our last full inspection in 2009 found a prison that had changed both its outlook and its outcomes, with a focus on providing a positive and rehabilitative experience for prisoners. This short follow-up inspection found that the prison had continued to make progress against most of our healthy prison tests. Progress concerning a number of important safety recommendations, however, was slow.
“Prisoners’ early experiences on arrival at Portland had improved little, with only adequate induction for young adults and otherwise quite weak arrangements. Governance concerning violence reduction was better but there was a worrying upward trend in levels of violence. Use of force was higher than we had previously seen but there was evidence that de-escalation techniques were deployed. The segregation unit was little used but its environment and regime required improvement. There had been limited progress on recommendations to address the problem of self-harm.
“The establishment was clean, which was commendable considering the age of many of the buildings. Further refurbishment was still required, but we were pleased that the appalling Rodney and Hardy wings, which we criticised heavily in the past, had now finally been demolished.
“Prisoners described the prison as being largely drug-free and there was a good focus on improving the drug strategy and better access to drug support services. The integrated drug treatment system (IDTS) had developed strongly since the last inspection. There had been good progress in health care and health staff were well integrated into the prison. Some prisoners complained about long waits to see health specialists, especially the dentist, but we found that waiting lists generally operated within the reasonable timescales.
“Unusually, prisoners raised very few complaints about the food with many commenting positively on its quality.
“Progress on diversity was mixed. The perceptions of minority groups were less positive than their counterparts, despite a good overarching strategy for diversity and equality. Arrangements for identifying and supporting prisoners with disabilities had, however, improved. Assessment of foreign national prisoners’ needs was generally good, as were arrangements for maintaining family contact.
“There was some good work in learning and skills and many of the strengths identified at the last inspection remained in place. The quality of workshops leading to real work opportunities was good and progression opportunities in learning and skills were improving. Unemployment was impressively low, but a lack of punctuality and attendance at activities needed to be addressed. PE arrangements for the general population were adequate and the sporting academies for football and rugby were a good and popular initiative.
“The strategic management of resettlement and offender management continued to be effective, supported by a good action plan. Links between offender supervisors at the prison and their community colleagues appeared to be better facilitated.
“Developing services for its new adult population appears to be Portland’s new challenge. Although this is, overall, a mixed report, the provision of regime remains good and there is a meaningful focus on resettlement. The apparent complacency around ensuring safety, however, required attention.“
Nick Hardwick May 2012
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Click Here to read the full report
by HMCIP: 6–10 July 2009 - announced inspection
“Portland Young Offenders Institution has an unpropitious physical environment. It is in a remote location far away from most of its young offenders’ homes, mostly with old and forbidding buildings, some not fit for use. Until fairly recently, staff attitudes and approach were equally negative and outdated. This inspection, however, found a prison which had changed both its outlook and its outcomes: with a focus on trying to provide a positive and rehabilitative experience for the young men placed there, in spite of the physical difficulties of the site. Young offenders’ institutions are intrinsically volatile places. Portland was no exception, with a significant number of violent incidents and uses of force. Positive efforts had, however, been made to reduce violence and bullying and to prevent self-harm and suicide. The security department was alert to issues related to gangs or radicalisation, but neither appeared to be current serious problems. At the other end of the spectrum, there were good arrangements for the support and care of prisoners who struggled to cope on normal location.
“Relationships between staff and young prisoners were good and appropriate, with one of the best personal officer schemes we have seen in such establishments, strongly linked in to resettlement and sentence planning. In a prison where 40% of the population, but almost no staff, came from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, work on race and religious diversity was rightly prioritised. Efforts had been made to bring in black role models to assist with sentence planning and some activity. Nevertheless, black and minority ethnic and Muslim prisoners continued to have worse perceptions in some key areas than white and non-Muslim prisoners, particularly with regard to relationships with staff.
“Most units, and particularly the newer ones, were in good condition. However, there remained one unit, Rodney, with no integral sanitation, where conditions can only be described as squalid: breaching acceptable standards of health and safety and in general unkempt and uncared-for. This unit urgently needs to close, as its sister unit has already done.
“Managers at Portland had taken impressive and positive steps to try to provide a positive and purposeful experience for the young men held there. Nearly all were employed, and all but 7% were working towards an accreditation of some kind. There was a wide range of vocational training, engaging a number of outside agencies, employers and individuals. Work and training were integrated into sentence planning and resettlement work.
“The resettlement work itself was extremely good, particularly given the distance from home of many young men, most of whom came from the London area. All staff, including residential staff, were involved, and the prison had made positive attempts to engage with statutory and voluntary agencies in the areas from which most prisoners came. Although visits were problematic, given the prison’s location, there were positive attempts to ameliorate this, by giving young men extra phone calls, putting on a coach service, and employing a proactive family links worker.
“We have inspected other prisons recently, in unpromising locations in rural areas far from prisoners’ homes, where we have found managers and staff sunk into a condition of learned helplessness: expecting and providing little. This was far from the case at Portland. Managers recognised the problems of location and environment, but were nevertheless determined to create a space in which young men could have new and different opportunities. This had required a great deal of effort, both with external partners and, equally importantly, from the whole staff group. Sadly, both staff and managers were still let down by the unacceptable and insanitary accommodation in one unit, which should promptly be demolished; and there were still underlying issues of race and religion which will require continuing attention. Apart from that, this is a positive report on a prison which has travelled a considerable distance and is actively seeking to improve the life chances of the young men it holds.”
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: August 2014