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Monday 23 April 2018
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HMP Buckley Hall - stable, and making progress


HMP Buckley Hall has a number of strengths and is carrying out some useful work with prisoners, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an announced inspection of the training prison in Lancashire.


Buckley Hall has managed to retain its function for the past seven years, providing a welcome measure of stability. The establishment was taken over by the public sector following a market testing process in 2000. This status was recently confirmed in 2011 when the public sector again won a subsequent competitive market test. The new service level agreement was introduced in November 2011. This inspection found the establishment to be settled, with outcomes for prisoners that were reasonably good or better.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • the number of violent incidents were low and those that did occur were addressed rigorously and supported by meaningful interventions;
  • self-harm incidents were low and support structures to assist those in crisis were generally effective;
  • most prisoners were positive about staff-prisoner relationships;
  • the provision of health care, and particularly mental health care, was good;
  • the range of vocational training and education on offer was good, with literacy and numeracy very well supported in workplace settings;
  • the achievement of accredited qualifications was generally very high, and most work placements were meaningful and evidenced a good work ethic;
  • the establishment was committed to improving and promoting equality, but progress was slow; and
  • plans were in place to reorganise the approach to offender management, and this, combined with quite good resettlement and reintegration planning, suggested the potential for real progress.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • use of segregation was higher than expected and a significant number of prisoners sought protection in segregation prior to onward transfer, which required further attention;
  • drugs were a problem, with a high random testing rate, though the prison was beginning to tackle supply routes and programmes to address demand were well integrated and responsive;
  • most of the wings were grubby, toilet screening in shared cells was often poor and access to kit and clothing was problematic; and
  • greater leadership was needed in delivering commitments and plans across the diversity strands.

Nick Hardwick said:

'Overall, this is a satisfactory report that highlights a number of key strengths and some useful work being carried out with prisoners. The establishment had coped well with the uncertainties of the market test process and was actively implementing plans that would bring improvement. However, some initiatives were quite new and needed time to establish themselves. A new focus on the promotion of equality and environmental standards was required, and the availability of drugs in the prison was something that needed to be addressed with renewed determination.'
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

'I welcome the Chief Inspector’s findings that Buckley Hall continues to have significant strengths in key areas. Despite a difficult period of market testing, the prison continued to provide good outcomes for prisoners. The Governor and her team will now take on board the recommendations of the report, including those around drugs, and look at how further to improve.
'We are committed to tackling the issue of illicit drugs across the estate and will continue to work with the police and other authorities on prevention strategies.'


View a copy of the report.




  • HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
  • This announced inspection was carried out from 16-20 April 2012.

  • HMP Buckley is a training prison for adult male category C prisoners.

  • Please contact Jane Parsons at HMI Prisons on 07880 787552 or Barbara Buchanan on 020 7035 2102 if you would like more information or to request an interview with Nick Hardwick.


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Ministry of Justice