Geoff Pick [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


The government recently announced the launch of their prison reform scheme – designed to address the serious problems in the UK prison system. Six prisons are taking part in the pilot phase of the scheme; and in this series, we’ll explore the prisons in question in more detail, and examine their performance under the scheme at a later date.

HMP Ranby

Ranby Prison is a category C working prison, which houses adult males. Situated in Nottinghamshire, the building was converted in the 1970s from a British Army camp, with more purpose-built accommodation added during the 1980s and 1990s. It has an operational capacity of 1,038.

Ranby Prison’s Performance

In recent years, Ranby Prison has been identified as a problematic establishment. Reports frequently cite the poor living conditions within the prison; and in 2002, a report led by the Prison Reform Trust found that inmates weren’t even offered privacy when using the toilet.

In more recent years, inspectors have expressed concerns over the levels of overcrowding at HMP Ranby, plus serious issues with security, protecting vulnerable inmates, and use of illegal drugs. In 2014, the prison hit the headlines due to rioting amongst prisoners; when over 120 inmates refused to return to their cells. Those involved were protesting due to the fact that they weren’t allowed outside, despite the high temperatures, and during the riot, a fire broke out in the building.

Is HMP Ranby Right for the Prison Reform Scheme?

The six prisons selected for the pilot phase of the scheme have been selected based on a number of factors – and vary dramatically in terms of performance and usage. Ranby Prison is one of the pilot scheme’s more challenging prisons, and as such, seems an obvious choice for reform.

How Will Ranby Prison Benefit?

The prison reform scheme proposes a number of significant changes for prisons, especially regarding governor autonomy and lack of direct interference from the government. As a result, it’s been called the ‘biggest shake-up of prisons since the Victorian times’. The proposed changes are intended to reduce rates of reoffending by improving rehabilitation.

Here’s more details about how the changes will impact HMP Ranby:

  • More direct control. Both Ranby’s executive governor, Neil Richards, and governing governor, Nigel Hirst, will have far more say over how the prison is operated. They won’t be constrained by as much government legislation, and they’ll have greater freedom to dictate how the prison’s budget is spent. This will enable them (in theory) to invest in the prison in a more individualised, targeted way.
  • Personalised approach. As they won’t be controlled so much by legislation, Ranby Prison’s governors and staff will be able to adopt a far more personalised approach. They’ll be able to identify ‘problem’ areas that are specific to the prison, and use their budget to address these problems directly. They will also have the freedom to forge partnerships with external organisations – which may help with rehabilitation.
  • Monitored results. Their efforts will be monitored throughout, and results will be displayed on a league table, which will be publicly available. If the governors are successful, this won’t be a problem. However, if their new approach doesn’t produce results, this will be clearly evident, and they’re likely to be held accountable.

What Does the Future Hold?

Only time will tell whether the proposed changes will positively impact Ranby Prison. However, it’s good to see the government taking active steps to combat the spiralling problem of the UK’s prison system – and hopefully, the new reform scheme will yield noticeable results.

Prison Phone logo

Keeping prisoner’s and families connected


Please follow and like us: