THE COMMITTEE'S PRISON DIARY PROJECT
For an outline description of the project, see paragraphs
33-37 of the Report.
1. Length of Sentence and Distance from
Table 1 shows details of sentence length for the
survey respondents. The majority of responding prisoners (57%)
were serving four years or longer, very few were serving sentences
of less than one year. Similar numbers had spent less than six
months (37.5%) or between six months and two years (38.8%) at
their current prison establishment. Together these groups accounted
for almost 80% of responding prisoners. Whilst about 34% of prisoner
were held between 10 and 50 miles from their home, a third of
responding prisoners were held between 50 and 100 miles from their
home and another 30% were held over 100 miles form home. 17% of
responding prisoners were held more than 200 miles away from their
2. Prisoners' Views of Prison
The chart below and Table 2 set out prisoners' views
about their current prison. The Diary included a section on prisoners'
views of the prison in which they were held. Prisoners were asked
whether or not they agreed with a series of statements. 72% agreed
with statements that they felt safe and that prisoner and staff
relations were good. 36% disagreed with the statement that they
were given respect. 14% of responding prisoners stated that they
suffered from racial discrimination. This figure rose to 37% among
those that identified their ethnic group as non-white.
Both HMP Springhill and HMP Wolds had a consistently
above average level of agreement with the statements that prisoners
felt safe, were given respect and that relations with staff were
good. HMYOI Aylesbury and HMP Elmley had above average numbers
disagreeing with the statement that they felt safe (although still
the minority) and HMP Elmley had a relatively high number disagreeing
with the statement that they felt safe. HMP Elmley had a below
average proportion of prisoners on the incentive and earned privilege
scheme and HMP Brockhill had only a minority. HMP Springhill,
HMP Swaleside and HMP Wolds all had high levels.
Prisoners' views and resettlement activity
|Responses to the following statements
|In this prison, I feel safe||215
|In this prison, I am given respect||191
|In this prison, I suffer racial discrimination
| among all non-white groups that answered
|I am on the Incentive and Earned Privilege Scheme
|Prisoner and staff relations are good here
|I have a home to return to on release||188
|I have been given advice about finding accommodation
|I have a job to go to on release||92
|I have been given advice about finding a job
The chart below shows that over 60% of responding prisoners indicated
they had a home to return to on release but less than 30% had
a job on release. Significantly, levels of advice about accommodation
and jobs were both low at 19% and 16% respectively.
Prisoner responses about resettlement activity varied greatly
according to prison establishment. HMYOI Aylesbury, HMP Wolds
and HMP Springhill all had higher than average proportions of
prisoners who had received advice about accommodation or work
on release. Very few prisoners at HMP Elmley or HMP Swaleside
had received such advice. This is unsurprising at HMP Swaleside,
which is a category B prison where virtually all prisoners are
serving long sentences. The proportion of respondents with a
home to return to on release also varied, from the average at
HMP Elmley which had particularly low levels and HMP Wolds where
they were well above average.
4. Purposeful Activity
Although this survey was not specifically designed to calculate
whether prisoners spent less than 24 hours out of their cell in
this week, it can be used to make an estimate. On this basis,
19% of responding prisoners spent less than 26 hours out of their
cell each week. The rate of day releases and cancelled classes
were both 11%.
The table below provides a full breakdown of time
spent in education, vocational training, prison work, offending
behaviour programmes/drug treatment programmes and gym, sports
Daily number of hours spent on the various activities
Over 60% of responding prisoners spent no time in
vocational training or offending behaviour programmes/drug treatment
programmes, 47% spent no time in education and 31% spent no time
in prison work. One in six had no time during the week in gym,
sports or association.
Prisoners at HMYOI Aylesbury spent less time out
of their cells on average, reflecting low levels of prison work.
The opposite was true for HMP Wolds and HMP Springhill, the latter
having a particularly high level of day releases (33%). In general,
most prisons that had a particularly high level of one type of
purposeful activity had correlating low rates of other types of
activity. Hence HMP Springhill and HMP Swaleside, which had high
levels of participation in prison work, had lower than average
levels of education and vocational training courses. HMP Brockhill
and HMYOI Aylesbury had higher levels of education and vocational
training courses, but lower levels of less prisoners engaged in
work. HMP Wolds was something of an exception: prisoners had above
average levels in education, vocational training and prison work
as well as gym, sports or association.
The results for the 171 prisoners on sentences of
four years of more were, overall, similar to the average for the
whole sample. There were a few differences however. These prisoners
were more likely to be on the incentive and earned privilege scheme.
They also tended to spend less time out of their cell each day
and were more likely to do prison work for more than three hours
5. Profile of Individual Prisons
At the time of our visit, Aylesbury Young Offenders'
Institution held 330 prisoners. The majority of responding prisoners
(56%) were white, just under one-third were black with the remainder
came from Asian or mixed ethnic background. Around one in seven
were serving sentences of between 12 months and four years, the
rest were serving sentences of over 4 years. 89% of prisoners
had a current sentence plan.
HMYOI Aylesbury provided four different offending
behaviour programmes, 11 education and 5 vocational courses. Each
of the education and vocational courses had recognised qualifications.
Prisoners spent an average of 19.3 hours per week on purposeful
activity in the year to date. HMYOI Aylesbury has a 12-step drug
treatment (RAPt) course, with 62 entrants in 2002/03 and 54 in
The response rate from HMYOI Aylesbury was 55%, the
highest of any of the prisons targeted. Completed responses represented
just over one-sixth of the March 2004 population. The respondents
from HMYOI Aylesbury were typically serving longer sentences than
the Project sample as a whole, with 68% serving four years or
more. Distances from prisoners' homes were further than average
and this is partly due to the smaller number of YOIs across the
prison estate. The majority of responding prisoners felt they
were safe, were given respect and that relations with staff were
good, although the proportion who agreed with these statements
was slightly smaller than at other prisons studied. The proportion
who received advice about accommodation or work after release
were 32% and 26% respectively, a minority, although above the
average of the other prisons in the Project. Over 75% of responding
prisoners did not have a job to go to on release, higher than
most other prisons studied.
Prisoners at HMYOI Aylesbury tended to spend less
time out of their cell. In over 70% of cases, this was less than
four hours a day. Despite the high rate of cancelled classes,
responding prisoners were more likely to attend education or vocational
classes as compared to the other prisons studied. They were significantly
less likely to spend time in work at the prison.
There were a relatively small number of responses
from HMP Brockhill, but due to the size of the prison, these represented
almost one-quarter of its March 2004 population. Prisoners at
HMP Brockhill typically had not yet been sentenced and had been
held at the prison for a short length of time. Respondents also
tended to live relatively close, with just under 50% living between
50 and 100 miles away. Views of the institution were fairly uniform,
with the majority of responding prisoners agreeing with statements
that they felt safe, were given respect and that relations with
staff were good. A smaller number of prisoners were on the incentive
and earned privilege scheme, probably reflecting the short length
of time they had been there. The proportion who had received
some advice about accommodation was relatively high at 29%.
Respondents from HMP Brockhill had a similar number
of hours out of their cell to the average from other prisons studied,
although they were less likely to have less than two hours out
a day. The proportion of days where prisoners attended education
classes was high, with a noticeable number on courses lasting
more than 3 hours. There were few responding prisoners who attended
any vocational courses, a trend repeated elsewhere. Prisoners
at HMP Brockhill were less likely to do any prison work and time
spent in gym, sports or association was well below that for the
other prisons taking part in the Project. On 65% of occasions,
no time was spent on these activities in a day and in 30% of cases,
only one hour.
HMP Elmley currently runs 18 educational and vocational
courses, the majority of which have recognised qualifications
on completion, and seven offending behaviour programmes. Further
courses are in development. The main types of purposeful activity
at the prison in 2003-04 were association (47%) and core work
(21%). Educational and vocational time accounted for 7% and 4%
respectively. In 2003/04, the first full year that the substance
misuse team was in operation, 1,331 prisoners underwent a Detoxification
programme. In the same year, 193 prisoners started tier 2 and
3 interventions for drug rehabilitation, 72% completed these interventions.
Prisoners are not put on community placement at HMP
Elmley: those that are suitable are progressed to open conditions.
The Committee received 71 responses from prisoners
at HMP Elmley, a slightly worse than average response rate. Respondents
from HMP Elmley tended to be on shorter sentences, or had not
yet been sentenced; only 30% were serving 4 years or more. Around
50% of responding prisoners had been at HMP Elmley for less than
six months and the majority lived within 50 miles of the prison.
All these findings are consistent with would be expected in the
case of a local prison. Although, as at the other prisons selected
for the Project, a majority agreed with statements that they felt
safe, were given respect and that relations with staff were good,
the majority was markedly smaller than in the case of any other
prison studied, and a significant minority at HMP Elmley did not
agree with these statements. A smaller proportion of prisoners
was on the incentive and earned privilege scheme. Those with and
without homes to go to on release were found in equal measure.
In addition, very few prisoners had received advice about accommodation
(7%) or jobs (12%).
Time out of cell followed a broadly similar pattern
to that seen on average across all the prisons selected to take
part in the Project. Fewer prisoners attended education classes
than at other prisons and on just three occasions in the week
did any of the responding prisoners participate in vocational
HM Prisons Grendon and Springhill
At mid-March 2004, HMP Grendon held 222 prisoners:
168 (76%) category B, 50 (23%) category C and 3 category D. A
large majority (82%) of prisoners were white, with prisoners from
the different black ethnic backgrounds forming the largest (10%)
minority group. Only one prisoner was serving less than 4 years.
At the same date, HMP Springhill held 321 prisoners, all of whom
were category D. The majority of prisoners (67%) were serving
sentences of four years or more, 28% were serving between 12 months
and four years and 5% less than 12 months. The only ethnic group
with a significantly different distribution of sentence lengths
was Black Caribbean. In this group, over 90% were serving sentences
of four years or more. 87% and 90% of prisoners had current sentence
plans at HMP Grendon and HMP Springhill respectively.
A total of 33 education courses were listed on the
education contract at HMP Grendon and 37 at Springhill. Neither
prison offers offending behaviour programmes or alcohol or drug
treatment programmes, although as a Therapeutic Community prison,
HMP Grendon automatically builds such courses into its basic regime.
The number of prisoners on day release at HMP Springhill varies
from 90-110 (in the region of one-third of the current population).
In 2003, 60% of prisoners released from Springhill went on to
employment or education, whilst 88% had accommodation. The average
distance from home to Springhill was 46.5 miles.
All responding prisoners from HMP Springhill had
been sentenced: one-third to between one and four years and two-thirds
to more than four years. About a half of responding prisoners
had been held at HMP Springhill for less than six months. The
respondents were positive about the prison environment, with 80%
agreeing with the statements that they felt safe and were given
respect. Only slightly fewer thought that relations with staff
were good. 87% were on the incentive and earned privilege scheme,
again above average. Similar relatively high numbers had received
advice about work and accommodation and a majority had a job to
go to on release.
80% of responding prisoners indicated that they spent
more than eight hours out of their cell in a day, well above any
other prison taking part in the Project. This figure of course
relates to the high levels of day release at the prison, which
at 33% is well above the average rate seen elsewhere. Prison work
patterns were also different: work took up 6 or more hours of
the day, which is double the average of the other prisons studied.
High levels of day release also explain the lower amount of time
spent on education or vocational training.
HMP Standford Hill
In early April 2004, the prison population of HMP
Standford Hill stood at 433 category D prisoners. 63% were white,
24% black and 8% Asian. The largest group (46%) was serving sentences
of over four years, 37% were serving sentence terms of between
12 months and four years and 18% were serving less than 12 months.
HMP Standford Hill provides a range of education
courses, taught at a variety of levels. It offers Enhanced Thinking
Skills, an offending behaviour programme. It also runs 13 vocational
courses, almost all sports related. All but one of these courses
provides a recognised qualification on completion. The prison
does not deliver any drug or alcohol detoxification services,
although it does run short intervention group programmes. According
to statistics provided to us by HMP Standford, on average each
prisoner spent 37-40 hours in purposeful activity per month and
55 hours per month in association in to year 2003-04.
Prisoners with more than 18 months left to serve
when they arrive at HMP Stanford Hill are eligible for community
and work placements outside the prison. At mid-June 2004, 28
prisoners from HMP Stanford were attending community placements,
19 were on paid work placements, 2 were on jobseeker programmes
and 17 were attending external education and training. The prison
also operates a job centre and a housing advice centre.
HM Prison Swaleside
In early April 2004, HMP Swaleside held 776 prisoners,
the vast majority of who were category B (82%) with a further
12% in category C and 6% uncategorised. 61% of the prison population
was white, 27% black and 6% Asian. No prisoners were serving sentences
of less than one year and only 20 had sentences of less than five
years. 74.4% of prisoners had current sentence plans.
According to information provided to us by the prison,
education and vocational courses come under ten broad headings,
with a range of qualifications and study levels available. In
addition HMP Swaleside runs ten offending behaviour courses, a
drug detox course, a RAPt and two CARAT courses. In 2002-03 and
2003-04, 77 prisoners completed the drug detox course, 54 the
CARAT courses and 90 the RAPt course. The average number of purposeful
activity hours per prisoner varied greatly from week to week over
Only a small number of prisoners are directly released
from HMP Swaleside due to their security status. Prisoners that
are released are seen 10 weeks beforehand by the education department
and jobcentre plus. On average, these departments see one such
prisoner a week. No statistics have been provided by the prison
on post-release education or employment.
HMP Swaleside was the only category B prison selected
for the Prison Diary Project. This is reflected in the fact that
responding prisoners tended to be on long sentences, had been
held at the prison for some time and live further away than average
from their home locality. An average proportion of responding
prisoners agreed with statements that they felt safe, were respected
and that relations with staff were good. A high number were on
the incentive and earned privilege scheme. A significant proportion
of responding prisoners (26%) said they suffered from racial discrimination,
including a number of prisoners who identified themselves as white.
A very small proportion of inmates had received advice about jobs
or accommodation on release.
On the whole, more time was spent out of cell at
HMP Swaleside than the average seen at the other prisons studied.
Levels of education and vocation courses were typical, as was
the proportion that did some prison work, although those that
worked tended to do so for longer periods than the average.
HM Prison Wolds
Responding prisoners from HMP Wolds had an average
sentence pattern, but they were more likely to have been at HMP
Wolds for less than six months (58%). 50% lived within 50 miles
of the prison. Although there was a relatively small number of
returns from HMP Wolds (26), those received expressed overwhelmingly
positive views about the prison. A very large majority agreed
with statements that they felt safe, were given respect and that
relations with staff were good. A higher than average number had
a home to return to on release and had received advice about accommodation.
Respondents from HMP Wolds were, however, less likely to have
a job on release.
Two-thirds of responding prisoners spent more than
eight hours out of their cell in a day. Participation in education
courses, vocational training, and prison work were all above average
levels. Similarly, respondents were more likely to spend more
than 4 hours a day in gym, sports or association.