In the past few years HMP Moorland has gone through several changes starting in 2002 when it merged with HMP Hatfield and then in 2011 the two prisons were put in a market testing program in order to be privatised and were put into a ‘South Yorkshire Lot’, including HMP Lindholme, The three prisons were led by one governor and a single management team. In total the prisons were holding 2,200 inmates.
Then in 2013 it was decided not to privatise the prisons, and in 2014 HMP Moorland was once more made a single prison. Moorland is also in the early years of becoming a resettlement prison and a prison for sex offenders so it has had a lot to deal with prior to the 2016 inspection. However, the report did acknowledge the challenges the prison had faced in recent years but made no compromise in judging the prisons standards as in need of improvement.
In 2016 Her Majesties Inspectorate gave the prison a rather dire report and in August 2018 the prison made it onto Rory Stewart’ ten worst prisons list. The prisons on this list have been given extra money to improve security, buy in electronic scanners and use sniffer dogs to detect incoming drugs. Leadership training is provided to the management of these prisons as well as the possibility of hiring new staff. Many of these prisons have had in-call phones installed in an attempt to cut down on violence levels.
HMP Moorland has a capacity of 1006, about 250 of these are foreign nationals and 350 are sex offenders. the most famous sex offender being the disgraced Sunderland football player Adam Johnson who has just been released after serving half his six year sentence. Johnson was jailed for the grooming of a 15 year old girl and for committing sexual offences with her.
HMP Moorland has introduced a sex offender treatment programme, due to the prisons re-designation as a national resource for holding sex offenders. The treatment programme and the re-rolling was held as a significant achievement in a 2016 inspection report.
Like many of the other eight prisons we have reviewed on the Ten Worst Prison’s list, Moorland is struggling to control the influx of new psychoactive substances such as ‘Mamba’ and “Spice’. The report called the impact of these drugs on the prison severe and needed to be dealt with immediately. Nearly 20% more prisoners say the drug is readily available compared to the previous report. Over 13% of inmates say they developed a drug problem since being in the prison. As is other prisons it seems that a high prevalence of drugs means the levels of violence increase, with more fights and assaults than at other similar prisons. This results in a high number of acute health incidents that have to be dealt with each day.
The report goes on to say that there is no integrated plan to deal with NPS and this is unacceptable. Peter Clark, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons says that until NPS are under control it makes it difficult to bring in any further reforms. The violence and related debt and bullying caused by drugs make other improvements fragile and unlikely to be sustainable.