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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Official prison performance falls again

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HMPPS annual prison performance ratings raise more concern about the prisons crisis.

46% prisons officially rated "of concern"

Last month (26 July 2018), the MoJ published its annual prison performance ratings, which makes public the performance of every prison in 2017/18 split into four categories. Here’s the predictably disappointing summary; as you can see, performance in almost half (46%) prisons is of concern :

Here’s the official description of the performance management system which has changed this year:

The prison performance framework for 2017/18 reflected the changes made in April 2017 to the
responsibility of commissioning for prisons. From 2009/10 to 2016/17, the Prison Rating System was used to assess the in-year performance of prisons. This was replaced by the Custodial Performance Tool (CPT) for 2017/18.

Prison performance ratings for 2017/18 are based on a data-driven assessment of a prison’s performance through the CPT, with ratification by in depth scrutiny of performance over the year through an established moderation process.

Performance in the CPT has been assessed against three main outcome areas that reflect priorities for 2017/18 as set by the Ministry of Justice:

  1. Public Protection;
  2. Safety and Order;
  3. And Offender Reform.

Seventeen commissioned performance measures developed in consultation with HMPPS underpin the three outcome areas. To ensure a balanced view of performance is reflected, a further nineteen shadow measures deemed to be important from an operational perspective also sit within the framework. For the purpose of the CPT these measures have been categorised as the HMPPS Additional Measures. Sufficiently high or low performance in the HMPPS Additional Measures can increase, or decrease, the overall prison performance rating by a band, if this differs to performance in the weighted measures.

The figure below shows the deterioration of performance over recent years:

All prisons deemed to be of serious concern were either Male Category C or Male Local prisons. Around 80% of Male Local prisons and were rated as having performance of concern or of serious concern. Offenders accommodated at Male Local prisons are either on remand or serving short-term custodial sentences, a likely driver to poor performance given environments will be more dynamic than those prisons with longer-term serving offenders, with a limited time to rehabilitate offenders.

All Male Open prisons, Young Offender Institutes and nearly 90% of Long-Term High Security prisons were rated as exceptional or meeting the majority of targets. Whilst around 70% of female prisons were performing exceptionally or were meeting the majority of targets. The remainder were rated as having performance of concern.

Conclusion

The prison ratings bulletin also contains the rating for every single establishment. 

These gloomy statistics combined with the news that Birmingham is the third prison to be the subject of the Chief Prison’s Inspector’s “urgent notification” procedure shows us that Prison Minister Rory Stewart’s “back to basics” prison reform campaign still has a long way to go.

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