Are our prisons getting better?

Prison performance is improving - at least that's what the official statistics say.

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Prison league table

Last week (30 July 2020), the MoJ published its annual prison performance ratings for the year 2019/20. The Department claims that the figures show an improving prison system with more prisons rated as exceptions and fewer rated as “serious concern”.

You can see the headline findings in the graphic below.

A range of performance

Open prisons and female prisons were strong performers

Over two-thirds of male open prisons were rated as exceptional with the remainder rated acceptable. Both Female Open prisons were rated as having exceptional performance and all other female prisons were rated as having either exceptional or acceptable performance.

Male locals were poor performers

Six of the seven prisons rated as serious concern were male locals, 18.8% of all male local prisons. Over half of male local prisons were rated as concern or serious concern. The remaining serious concern establishment was a male closed young offender institute.

Security and living conditions rated higher than employment, accommodation and self-harm

Prisons performed well on security measures with 85.7% of prisons rated as having acceptable or exceptional performance for Security Audits. Audit of Living Conditions and Incident Reporting System (IRS) Data Quality Audit also performed well. Employment at six weeks following release, accommodation on the first night of release and self-harm incidents were the poorest performing.

Employment at six weeks following release was the poorest performing measure with only 4.0% of prisons meeting target. Accommodation on the first night of release also performed poorly, with 17.3% of prisons meeting target.

The table below shows the performance of every establishment using the official 4-band rating system in which:

Rating 4 = Performance is exceptional
Rating 3 = Performance is acceptable
Rating 2 = Performance is of concern
Rating 1 = Performance is of serious concern

Thanks to Andy Aitchison for kind permission to use the header image in this post. You can see Andy’s work here.

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One Response

  1. Performance should be measured including recidivism and OBP completed. Some Offenders will complete their whole sentence without any intervention, help or need to address their offending behaviour. Measure performance by outcomes not how many positive drug tests have been recorded, how many searches have been conducted, and attendance at education before they leave half way through the session. Performance needs to be measured in a way it effects outcomes and serves the public purse more effectively other than well done for establishments meeting some KPT’s which will make no difference to the Offenders behaviour. What actually works and build on it, fund those establishments making a difference, it is obvious your big locals will be of concern. They are underfunded, in some cases unfit to house offenders, like a meat factory which churns out offenders to the next stage without serious consideration to their offender work required, sent to establishments which do not offer the relevant intervention. Until the truth is told about prisons we will be here in ten year saying the same things. Integrity and being humble is something those who report to teh Justice committee need to embrace and recognise shortcomings which if they were honest we could address, but the number of Justice Ministers the system has went through recently, it is not important to be good at your job, just lucky and hope the roof doesnt come off when you are in the seat. This cascades downwards to Governors or at least those who are strong enough to admit it.

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