Inspectors were very concerned about the lack of safety at HMP Ranby after Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, published a report of an unannounced inspection of the Notts training prison.
HMP Ranby is a large prison holding just over 1,000 prisoners. It aims to fulfil its function as a working prison providing education, training and work to all, as well as resettlement services, as prisoners move towards their eventual release.
At its last inspection in 2012, inspectors concluded that it delivered its training and resettlement functions reasonably well despite some weaknesses. The findings from this more recent inspection, though, suggest outcomes had deteriorated significantly in the past year.
Inspectors were concerned to find that:
- Conditions in the first night centre were dirty and unprepared and too many prisoners there were seeking sanctuary from the rest of the prison
- Many indicators showed that the prison was unsafe: nearly half the population said they had felt unsafe at some time and reported levels of victimisation and intimidation were concerning
- Levels of violence were higher than expected and evidence suggested they were getting worse
- There appeared to be a significant number of incidents where prisoners climbed on netting, some of which involved prisoners who felt unsafe and whose motivation was to attempt to force a transfer from the prison
- Use of segregation was high and increasing, with most of those held seeking sanctuary or an exit from the prison
- Case management procedures to support those at risk of self-harm were of a poor quality, and there was evidence that the number of self-harm incidents was increasing
- There had been two self-inflicted deaths in 2013, the first for five years, and another two occurred after this inspection
- There was evidence to indicate the increased availability of currently undetectable psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’) as well as diverted prescription medications
- Around 28% of prisoners were locked in their cells during the working part of the day and 200 prisoners were not working, which was unacceptable
- Work to reduce reoffending lacked effectiveness, with no clear strategy and vision for the prison
- The range of resettlement services had deteriorated in quality
However, inspectors were pleased to find that:
- security was well managed, although the direct supervision of prisoners on residential units and the prison grounds was not good enough
- the prison grounds were well maintained
- health care, criticised at the last inspection, had improved markedly
- prisoners who worked could receive more than 10 hours a day out of cell
- the range and quality of education and vocational training was good
Chief Inspector Hardwick said: “This report is troubling and we identified many problems within the prison.
“However, we were encouraged that the governor, who had been appointed relatively recently, recognised the extent of the challenge faced at Ranby. There was candour and honesty among managers about their situation and staff seemed to want to do a better job, but there was no doubt Ranby felt like a prison in crisis.
“Ranby’s role is to provide prisoners with work, and access to learning and skills, to equip them for the future and to manage their resettlement. In this respect the prison was not yet delivering a good enough outcome. In order for the prison to work, the starting point must be to make it safer.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service, added: “Ranby has been through a difficult period but significant progress has been made under a new experienced Governor who was appointed shortly before this inspection.
“Ensuring a safe and decent environment is the priority and reviewed procedures to tackle violence, prosecute perpetrators and support vulnerable prisoners are now in place. Work and regime activity is being increased and the prison is working closely with local police and with health providers to tackle the issues around drugs and misuse of medication.
“Ranby has a challenging population to manage but the Governor has taken decisive action to address the concerns raised by the report.”