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Monday 23 April 2018
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HMP North Sea Camp - a successful open prison


HMP North Sea Camp had made improvements at a time when its population had changed significantly, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an unannounced short follow-up inspection of the Lincolnshire open prison.


HMP North Sea Camp was last inspected in 2009. Inspectors found then that much of the accommodation badly needed refurbishment. There was a high proportion of short-sentenced prisoners whose needs were not matched to the regime. Prisoners, however, felt safe and there was sufficient activity for them. This inspection found that sufficient progress had been made in three out of four healthy prison criteria: safety, purposeful activity and resettlement, but that more needed to be done in the area of respect.


Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • levels of violence and the number of self-harm incidents were low;
  • routine strip-searching no longer took place and there was a more proportionate approach towards security and discipline;
  • despite an increase in the size of the population, and in the number of high-risk individuals, a successful balance had been struck between care and control;
  • relationships between officers and prisoners remained good;
  • all prisoners continued to have ample time unlocked;
  • the number and range of accredited courses had increased, classroom attendance had improved and course completion rates were good;
  • greater priority was being given to resettlement and a large amount of effort had been made to develop a strategic approach, and efforts were beginning to be made to develop purposeful pathway work; and
  • the number and range of employers available to provide support to help prisoners had increased.


However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • although refurbishment work had resulted in some improvements, overall, living conditions remained broadly similar to those found previously and more prisoners were living in extremely cramped conditions; and
  • no progress had been made in developing work on diversity and, given the significant changes in the population profile, this was a key weakness.


Nick Hardwick said:


'The isolated location of North Sea Camp, along with the poor state of the built environment, undoubtedly create barriers to what can be achieved there. Nevertheless, it continues to fulfil its function as an open prison relatively successfully. In order to build on the incremental progress we saw, the prison needs to give greatest attention to the areas of diversity and resettlement.'


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


'I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has noted the achievements of the Governor and staff at North Sea Camp in providing a safe, secure and purposeful environment despite the physical challenges the prison presents.


'The Governor will work to use the recommendations in the report to build on the progress that has already been made and address concerns raised around the areas of diversity and resettlement.' 


View a copy of the report.




  1. 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.
  2. This unannounced short follow-up inspection was carried out from 16-18 April 2012.
  3. HMP North Sea Camp is an open male category D prison.
  4. Please contact Jane Parsons at HMI Prisons on 07880 787552 if you would like more information or to request an interview with Nick Hardwick.


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Ministry of Justice