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: 25.0 (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: £17,300,000 (2011-12)*
Approx cost per prisoner place (2010): £42,883
*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: Shropshire North
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Owen Paterson (Conservative) - Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Member of the Privy Council
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
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: 01630 636000 ext 6254
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:
7–16 March 2012 Unannounced full follow-up inspection
Published: May 2012
Greater clarity of purpose and was much improved overall
“Stoke Heath, near Market Drayton in Shropshire, is an institution with long-established experience of holding and managing young offenders. Over recent years it has undergone quite dramatic change, with the loss of its juvenile population in April 2011, to be immediately replaced for the first time by adult prisoners. The prison now holds a mixed population of young adults up to the age of 21 and category C adult prisoners.
“ When we last visited we made a number of criticisms of a prison that was not performing well. At this inspection, and despite the disruption that inevitably follows a period of transition, we found a prison that appeared to have greater clarity of purpose, that had managed the process of change well, and that was overall much improved.
“ Stoke Heath was a safer prison. Most prisoners felt safe when they arrived and the number of violent incidents had reduced. A calm atmosphere was evident around the prison. The more mature profile of prisoners clearly helped, but the prison had also been proactive in its application of safer custody procedures and the quality of supervision was generally good. Young adults were, however, more negative in their perceptions of safety. Some effective self-harm prevention measures were in place and incidents of self-harm were not excessive, although the prison had had to deal with the aftermath of two relatively recent self-inflicted deaths. The prison was commendably developing adult safeguarding initiatives with local authorities in a much more advanced way than we normally see.
“ The segregation unit was a reasonable facility with a fair regime and some meaningful work undertaken around reintegration planning. Throughput, however, appeared quite high, as was the use of formal disciplinary procedures. Use of force, in contrast, seemed to be reducing and scrutiny and governance was impressive in its thoroughness.
“ The prison was reasonably clean but standards on the different wings were variable. Access to sufficient prison clothing of decent quality remained problematic. The quality of relationships between staff and prisoners was good and the vast majority of prisoners felt respected by staff.
“ Some elements of the prison’s work promoting diversity was inconsistent and more needed to be done in respect of all the diverse groups, starting with improved consultation arrangements. In general, however, there was good leadership in promoting diversity and progress was evident. There was supportive provision for different faiths, prisoners had confidence in complaints procedures and there was some good health care provision. The quality of the food was also good, despite some negative prisoner perceptions.
“ Least progress had been made in the provision of activity. It was the area where the change to the prison’s population had had the most impact, and it was clear that the prison was still adjusting provision to reflect those changes. During our inspection, at least a quarter of the population were locked in their cells during the working day, and this was worst among the young adult population. There was a shortfall of around 130 activity places, despite the establishment’s status as a training prison. Allocation to activity was poor and many courses had long waiting lists. There was insufficient vocational training, although there were advanced plans to provide more. Despite clear inadequacies, however, the quality of what was on offer was generally good.
“ The prison’s resettlement work was much improved since our last inspection, although strategic management and the effective analysis of need was still catching up with the changes in the population and there was a significant back log of OASys assessments. All prisoners had an offender management supervisor. Quality assurance of offender management work was reasonably good and the approach was properly orientated toward assessing and reducing the risk of offending. Reintegration planning was also reasonably good, as was provision across most of the resettlement pathways.
“ This is an encouraging report. The changes imposed on the prison were quite sudden and the requirement to respond urgent. Stoke Heath has made clear progress and outcomes for prisoners were generally much better than when we last inspected. It was also pleasing to see that the recent changes had not diverted the prison from getting to grips with its problems. It is arguable that the new population profile will be easier to manage and this may bring further opportunities, but it is also the case that we inspected a prison that was now properly focused and well managed, and that had applied new systems and initiatives with energy, application and thoroughness.”
Nick Hardwick May 2012
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Click Here to read the full report
by HMCIP: 13 - 17 December 2010 - unannounced short follow-up inspection
Report Dated: February 2011
Published: May 2011
“Stoke Heath is a young offender institution which, at the time of this unannounced follow up inspection, held both young adults aged 18–21 and young people under 18. The inspection focused only on the younger population. As this report was in preparation, the Youth Justice Board announced the relocation of these young people following the reduction in their numbers in custody across the country and the need to rationalise the juvenile secure estate.
“ The inspection found that provision for young people at Stoke Heath remained reasonably good across the board and, accordingly, this report provides a suitable testament to the success of managers and staff in managing this challenging population. Given the establishment’s change of role, the report makes no recommendations.
“ Stoke Heath remained an essentially safe place for young people. While many did feel fearful on arrival – not helped by unnecessary routine strip- searching on reception – safeguarding arrangements were sound, a robust approach was taken to reducing bullying and there was good care for those at risk of self-harm. However, violent incidents remained a serious problem and, in response, use of force and of segregation by staff was also high.
“ The establishment was a poor design for young people, with overly large units that were hard to control. Accommodation was of variable quality, but access to showers and phones was good. Relationships between staff and young people were positive, supported by an effective personal officer scheme. There was scope to improve the incentives and sanctions scheme to make it a better and fairer means of managing behaviour. Race issues were dealt with well but other aspects of diversity were underdeveloped. Both the chaplaincy and health care provided a good service.
“ Young people spent a reasonable amount of time out of cell, but association was restricted by the need to carefully manage the large numbers on each unit. Education had improved significantly, with many young people gaining some form of accreditation. There was also a range of vocational opportunities. The library remained a very good facility but PE provision had suffered from staff shortages.
“ The strategic management of resettlement remained reasonable and there was increased practical help available to assist young people to plan for their release. There had been a decline in the sentenced population and an increase in the numbers of remanded young people, but the establishment had responded well to this more transient population. Most reintegration services were satisfactory, with good support to address substance misuse and to maintain family ties.
“ With the removal of young people from Stoke Heath, staff and managers can now focus all their energies on a dedicated population of young adults. This essentially positive final report means that the establishment can look back on a successful closing chapter dealing with young people – whom, it is to be hoped, will be as well cared for in the other parts of the juvenile secure estate to which they have now been moved.”
Nick Hardwick February 2011
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of NOMS said;
"I am pleased that this report recognises the success of staff at Stoke Heath in managing a challenging population and I welcome the assessment that the establishment is safe, with good staff-prisoner relationships and education, and effective resettlement provision. The number of young people under 18 in custody is reducing, leading to a change in the Stoke Heath's role, and the Governor and his staff will continue to work hard with young adults to ensure effective public protection and to reduce the risk of reoffending on release."
Click here to read the full report
by HMCIP: 29 March – 2 April 2010 - Announced inspection
“Stoke Heath young offenders’ institution is one of only two remaining ‘split sites’, holding both young adults (aged 18 to 21) and young people (aged 15 to 17). This inspection was solely of the provision for young adults. This is an age group about which the Inspectorate has repeatedly expressed concern: that the focus and the resources available are inadequate to meet their needs and risks. This report amply demonstrates that concern. In many key areas, we found that young adults’ access to important activities and opportunities was severely limited.
“ Processes for the reception and support of young adults in the early days of custody were inadequate. They could experience long delays before being located, sometimes late in the evening, on to their accommodation, which was itself poorly maintained. Some risk assessments were of poor quality, and induction was not sufficiently informative. A high proportion of young adults had felt unsafe at Stoke Heath. Though considerable management attention had been given to violence reduction, the strategies and processes were overcomplicated and underused by residential staff. Data was not disaggregated to identify issues specifically affecting young adults. Bad language often went unchallenged, and shouting out of windows was endemic. Safer custody arrangements also needed greater clarity and focus, and the quality of ACCT documents was inconsistent and sometimes poor. There had, however, been noticeable improvements in disciplinary matters: the segregation unit was now well run, with good relationships, and governance of the use of force was effective. The environment was, in general, dirty and uncared-for: this included ingrained food residue on serving trolleys. Relationships between staff and young adults were relatively relaxed, but there was little proactive engagement or challenge, and the personal officer scheme was underused and undermanaged. Work across the diversity strands was developing, but young adults with disabilities and those from black and minority ethnic communities reported poorer experiences of prison life. Diversity was another area that suffered from the failure to disaggregate monitoring data to reveal the experience of young adults. Health care was in general very good, with some high quality mental health provision, though staff shortages impacted badly on the regime for inpatients.
“ There had been an increase in the amount and range of work, training and education available in the establishment, and it was in general better managed and delivered. However, access for young adults was clearly insufficient to meet need. There were only sufficient vocational training places for 20% of the population and the qualifications available were at a relatively low level. This difficulty was compounded by slow allocation procedures, workshop closures, low attendance rates and poor punctuality. We found over a third of young adults locked in their cells during the working day. Though some education achievements were good, discipline in some classes was poor, and learning plans ineffective. PE facilities and training opportunities were good, but access to recreational PE was unduly restricted, and many young adults told us that they could attend only every other week. Association times were limited and exercise was not available daily.
“ There had been no resettlement needs analysis on which to base provision. Offender management of those in scope, about a third of the population, was ineffective, due to the redeployment of key staff. Contact with offender supervisors was insufficient and most young adults had no up-to-date OASys assessment or sentence plan. There was no custody planning for the remaining two-thirds of the population. Public protection arrangements were good. Some of the resettlement pathways, such as accommodation, family support and substance misuse, were well developed, but others, such as finance and debt and offending behaviour work, were not. In general, access to reintegration services depended on self-referral.
“ This is a disappointing report. Outcomes for young adults at Stoke Heath were not sufficiently good in any of our four key areas: safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement. It was clear that their needs were much less well catered for than those of the under-18s with whom they shared the site, and that in many cases little would be done to reduce the significant risk of their reoffending. This is partly a management issue for Stoke Heath itself: to ensure that the opportunities that exist are used effectively and young adults are engaged with and supported, both as a group and individually. But split sites like Stoke Heath also show very clearly the relative neglect of this risky and vulnerable group throughout the prison system, compared to the resources and specialist focus on under-18s – since the previous government’s promise to replicate this for 18-21 year olds was never fulfilled. Split sites are gradually being abolished – but that may serve only to disguise the differential treatment that young adults experience, as well as its inevitable consequences.”
Anne Owers June 2010
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: July 2012