Long Lartin Prison ‘Stable and Well Controlled’
A prison in Worcestershire that houses some of the UK’s most serious offenders is “stable and well-controlled”, according to inspectors. HMP Long Lartin is a high-security jail where a quarter of inmates are category A – the highest classification. The prison has suffered “several extremely serious incidents” including two murders since its previous inspection in 2014. But HM Chief Inspector of Prisons said that the jail was now a “well-controlled environment” where most prisoners said that they felt safe.
Decrease in Assaults on Inmates Since Last Inspection
Inspectors found that overall levels of violence had not risen and the number of assaults on inmates had fallen since the last inspection, but the number of assaults against staff had increased. Mr Clarke said: “Strategies and initiatives to combat violence were, in our view, comprehensive and robust.”
Since 2014, at least three prisoners had taken their own lives, but there had been good progress in applying recommendations after investigations by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO). Support for those at risk of self-harm was generally found to be good. The management of security was the prison’s main priority and strong perimeter security helped Long Lartin to achieve lower rates of drug use than what inspectors are used to seeing. There was good work to tackle staff corruption and inspectors commended the way the prison dealt with the risk of extremism among prisoners.
Support for Mental Health Needs “Responsive and Effective”
The general environment at the prison near Evesham was reasonably clean, Mr Clarke said, although the quality of accommodation varied greatly. About half the population was held in ageing house blocks that used a night sanitation system which gives prisoners access to toilets by the remote electronic unlocking of cells.
“Our report details the indignities imposed on prisoners by this arrangement, a system we have criticised repeatedly in the past.”
The promotion of equality and diversity had worsened but work to support inmates with mental health needs was fond to be effective. Time out of cells was reasonable for those who worked, but inspectors found about a third of prisoners locked up during the working day. Public protection work was good and resettlement arrangements for the small number of men who were released were effective.
Long Lartin “Remains a Fundamentally Capable Prison”
Mr Clarke said: “Long Lartin, despite the challenges, remains a fundamentally capable prison. Its response to some of the very serious operational challenges it has had to deal with has been robust and measured and, in that sense, the establishment had not been knocked off course. Key challenges it had still to deal with concerned the legacy of some very poor accommodation and the need to routinely provide sufficient supervisory staff to sustain the daily routine. Key strengths remained a good staff culture which supported respectful engagement with prisoners and a competent management team with a good grip on the issues.”
“Working Hard to Provide a Positive Regime”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said: “I’m pleased that the Chief Inspector has highlighted the excellent work done with long-sentenced, high-risk prisoners at Long Lartin. The Governor and her team have worked hard to provide a positive regime and more staff are now being recruited to further expand activity levels. Prisoners at Long Lartin all have single cells. We will review the operation of the electronic unlock system to minimise delays as far as possible, but we have no immediate plans to replace it given other funding priorities across the service.”