‘Little or no meaningful progress’ in key areas at HMP Manchester

HMP Manchester has been assessed by inspectors as having made slow and weak progress in many key areas where improvement was urged after a full inspection in 2018.

An Independent Review of Progress at the jail, which is still commonly known by its old name, Strangeways, took place in June, 11 months after the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, said it needed to “up its game”.

“The response to the 2018 inspection can only be described as too late and too weak … we found there had been little or no meaningful progress against two-thirds of our recommendations,” said Mr Clarke.

“Assaults on prisoners had reduced significantly since the full inspection, and we judged there to have been reasonable progress in this area, (but) if the establishment is to reduce violence further, particularly against staff, the lengthy list of actions aimed at reducing violence should be prioritised.”

The report found that the use of force by staff remained high.

Prisons reform
Prisons reform

“Despite this, there had been no meaningful progress against this recommendation; governance had not improved, staff rarely used their body-worn cameras, with no adequate explanation for this, and too few recorded incidents were scrutinised to provide assurance and institutional learning.”

There have been three self-inflicted deaths in the prison since the full inspection in July 2018.

“It was bewildering to find that actions to prevent deaths in custody simply had not been reviewed until shortly before our visit.

“Similarly, the introduction of key work and wing peer support had been so slow that we could not yet see sufficient progress in this area,” said Mr Clarke.

He added that there had been no meaningful progress in the areas of equality and diversity or time out of cell. A spot-check on one wing found 49% of prisoners locked up during the day.

“HMP Manchester was relatively well resourced and had fewer inexperienced staff than we have found at similar prisons. It was therefore hard to understand why progress had been so slow in many critical areas.

“Such progress as there had been had only started in the weeks and months immediately leading up to this review visit,” he said.

“Without a fundamental shift in attitude towards the findings of HM Inspectorate of Prisons, we had no confidence that there could be significant improvements in the future.”