Norwich Prison receives critical report

Norwich prison has been criticised in a new report and needs a period of management stability to allow it to make improvements, the chief inspector of prisons said today.

The inspector's report highlights concerns that the Knox Road jail appeared less safe than at its last inspection, the induction of vulnerable prisoners was inadequate and there was limited supervision by staff on some wings.

But inspectors were pleased to find that the situation for young adult prisoners had improved and the outcomes they experienced were now comparable with adult prisoners and that staff-prisoner relationships were reasonable.

The report followed an unannounced inspection, and chief inspector Nick Hardwick said: 'Overall this is a critical report. Norwich is a difficult prison to manage but we were encouraged that the management team seemed to have a good grasp of the challenges they faced, although progress needed to be maintained and in some areas speeded up. Meaningful plans were in place and there was optimism among managers that they could take the prison forward. We shared their optimism.'

At the jail's previous inspection in 2010, inspectors found the prison was improving and beginning to clarify its role and purpose.

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This inspection found that Norwich was better than it has been, but needed focus to provide impetus and the opportunity to realise planned improvements.

Inspectors were concerned to find that the number of incidents of self-harm was high, and support for those in crisis and day-to-day care was limited.

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High levels of use of force and special accommodation were evident and the segregation unit was poor.

Concerns were also raised about the standard of accommodation, which was mixed across the three sites, and many cells and communal areas were poor and progress in learning and skills provision was insufficient and too slow, although there were well developed plans to improve quantity, quality and organisation of purposeful activity.

Unemployment was still too high – around 50pc on the reception site – yet not all the regime activity places were fully utilised, though it was better on the Local Discharge Unit and at Britannia House, and access to offending behaviour work was limited.

However, inspectors were pleased that work on diversity had improved, though more needed to be done, health care was improving and mental health support was now good. Resettlement work also remained solid and well managed, with robust public protection arrangements.

Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said: 'The chief inspector acknowledges that Norwich is a complex prison; that it has improved since the last inspection; and that there are credible plans in place to maintain and accelerate progress.

'The governor and his senior team are determined to deliver further improvement, and I am confident they will do so.'

The prison accommodates male adult and young adult category B, C and D prisoners.

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