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Wednesday 25 April 2018
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HMP Isle of Wight - A mixed picture


It was challenging to manage the three old prisons that now make up HMP Isle of Wight as one establishment - the distinct character of each site meant that progress across the prison as a whole was mixed, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an announced inspection of the prison cluster.

HMP Isle of Wight is an amalgamation of three significant and quite challenging institutions: Parkhurst, Albany and Camp Hill. At its last inspection in 2010, inspectors highlighted the risks that such radical restructuring could pose, in part because of concerns previously expressed about the three sites.


Commendably, some progress had been made since then. At this inspection, the process of integration had continued but the distinctive character of the three sites remained. There was evidence that management attention, previously focused on restoring basic standards at Parkhurst, was now more evenly applied.


Across all three sites, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • HMP Isle of Wight was a generally respectful institution;
  • provision for the high number of older prisoners and those with disabilities was generally good;
  • diversity arrangements had improved; and
  • mental health services were good.


However, inspectors were concerned to find that at all three sites:

  • the diversion of prescribed medication was a problem;
  • the number of reported incidents of physical violence was relatively low but the number of alleged bullying incidents was higher than at similar prisons;
  • segregation units experienced significant throughput;
  • black and minority ethnic prisoners expressed negative perceptions about their treatment;
  • resettlement arrangements remained little changed and insufficient; and
  • offender management required more focus and drive.


Albany was the safest of the three sites inspected. Inspectors also found that at Albany, the regime was reasonable with little unemployment. While there was some good accommodation, there were some overcrowded shared cells and poor shared amenities.  Of particular concern was the continued use of the automated ‘night san’ toilet arrangements which remained unacceptable, although the prison was trying to mitigate the worst impact.


At Camp Hill, fewer prisoners than at comparator sites said they felt safe. There were relatively high levels of illicit drugs available. Nearly 80 prisoners were recorded as unemployed, which was unacceptable in a training prison.


At Parkhurst, as at Camp Hill, fewer prisoners than at comparator sites said they felt safe. The integration of mainstream and vulnerable prisoners was being challenged by significant prisoner-on-prisoner victimisation that some attributed to an influx of prisoners from Camp Hill. Levels of bullying were high but under-reported. Inspectors were, however, pleased to find that there had been significant improvements at Parkhurst. Staff-prisoner relationships were better and health care had improved, although there were delays in accessing some services.

Nick Hardwick said:

'Our overall findings at HMP Isle of Wight are mixed. Our healthy prison tests show continued and significant variation between the sites: there is some improvement at Albany, some deterioration at Parkhurst and little change at Camp Hill. As we indicated last time, these variations are the best evidence of the challenge in making these disparate establishments a coherent whole. We were shown specific and particular plans to advance the project, but we are aware of scepticism among both staff and prisoners about the future. We have highlighted a number of issues in this report that we believe should be prioritised to help achieve this goal.'

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

'I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has recognised that progress is being made at HMP Isle of Wight. The creation of a single prison has already delivered significant savings for the taxpayer and the Governor and his team are developing effective regimes to meet prisoner needs across all three sites.

'We are committed to managing prisoners safely and the Governor and his staff will continue to work with the available resources to build on the integration process already underway and address concerns raised in the report.'



  1. Read a copy of the report
  2. 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.
  3. This announced full follow-up inspection was carried out from 21 May – 1 June 2012.
  4. In 2009, the Prison Service clustered the three Isle of Wight prisons - Parkhurst, Albany and Camp Hill - under a single governor. HMP Isle of Wight is a category B male training prison. Parkhurst holds category B prisoners and a small number of unconvicted adult male prisoners awaiting trial. Albany holds category B prisoners, plus prisoners from the other two sites in the inpatient health centre. Camp Hill holds category C prisoners.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons in HMI Prisons Press Office on 0207 035 2123 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information or to request an interview with Nick Hardwick



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Ministry of Justice