HMP Nottingham is a category B prison for adult males and young male offenders. It is a local prison and takes offenders from the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire courts. This enables the prisoners to stay in contact with their families. Originally built in 1890 it has been totally rebuilt and repurposed with an operational capacity of 1060.
An inspection in January 2018, found the prison to be fundamentally unsafe, with 8 suicides between 2016 and the 2018, and at least three more death have occurred this year. Prisoners did not feel safe and there was a culture of violence fuelled by drug use that was prevalent throughout the prison. Nearly half of the prisoners have mental health needs and 20% are on opiate substitution. The report called the levels of suicide and self harm “tragic and appalling.”
So what has been done?
Reforms that began in January 2018 have been built on with plans for a mental health day care centre progressing in partnership with Nottinghamshire Healthcare. NHS England has confirmed it is investing £200,000 in mental healthcare workers at the prison.
Alongside this a review of first night procedures has been done, as this is when prisoners feel most vulnerable and are at greatest risk. The care-in-custody managers have undertaken training to ensure new prisoners feel safe and understand what is happening.
The prison has implemented a new violence management strategy and employed 4 substance misuse officers to tackle the prisons endemic drug use. To lead the work on drug misuse the prison has hired a dedicated head of substance abuse
Stopping drugs and contraband entering the prison in the first place is important and to help this there are at least four metal detecting wands and trace detection machines. These are especially useful for finding psychoactive drugs such as ‘spice’ that are a large part of the prison drug trade. Four new sniffer dogs and two handlers are now on site at the prison to aid detection of drugs and contraband.