12.HMIP visited Liverpool prison between 11 and 22 May 2015, and found that outcomes were not sufficiently good across each of the four healthy prisons tests. The 2015 report stated that the environment was very poor, outside areas were dirty with litter strewn on the ground, and accommodation was dirty, crowded and poorly equipped. At our evidence session on 24 January 2018 we heard that recommendations made following that inspection had not been implemented (or achieved as HMIP reports term it) when HMIP visited again in September 2017. We heard, in fact, that conditions in the prison had deteriorated in that time. The 2017 Inspection report noted that violence of all kinds had increased, and the high prevalence of drugs was likely to have been a contributory factor.
13.During the hearing, we questioned the head of the prison service, Michael Spurr, about why recommendations had not been successfully implemented. He told us that, in May 2017, the prison reported that 66% of HMIP’s recommendations were on track to be delivered. In the event, however the HMIP report stated that in September 2017 25% of those recommendations had been achieved, and 60% had not been achieved, with the reminder partially achieved (16%). Mr Spurr told us that “[t]here was a failure at local level to follow through on the recommendations [made by HMIP in 2015] and I accept that from an organisational perspective we did not have enough robust governance above establishment level to make sure that [the recommendations made in 2015] were being delivered properly”.
14.It appears that the prison’s own reporting masked the extent of deterioration at HMP Liverpool after the 2015 inspection. Mr Spurr also told us that there had been no formal process in place for reporting responses to HMIP recommendations to Ministers at the time of the 2015 inspection, and that no Minister had asked for an update on progress against the 77 recommendations made by HMIP about HMP Liverpool.
15.It does not appear that this failure to achieve the inspectorate’s recommendations is unique to HMP Liverpool. Recent months have seen a “very disappointing” inspection of Swansea and an inspection report highlighting a “persistence of failure” at Wormwood Scrubs. Both of these reports also drew attention to a lack of demonstrable improvement since previous inspections. Furthermore, in January the Inspectorate issued its first urgent notification, regarding HMP Nottingham. The urgent notification letter cited poor ratings in 2014 and 2016 inspections and stated that “as an inspectorate we can recall only one previous occasion when the safety of a prison has been assessed as poor following three consecutive inspections”.
16.The new Minister of State responsible for prisons, Rory Stewart, told us that “it seems to me that we could make much better use of the inspection reports and really use them to drive cultural change”. The Minister noted that a unit had been set up within HMPPS by the previous Secretary of State, Mr David Lidington, MP, to follow up on HMIP inspection reports. He stated that “[w]e should make the inspection reports absolutely front and centre in how we judge prisons”.
17.We are concerned that recommendations made by HMIP did not result in improvements in HMP Liverpool, and we are further concerned that this also appears to be the case in other prisons. We welcome the new unit within HMPPS to respond to HMIP recommendations, and the new Minister’s commitment to using HMIP reports to drive change. However, we remain concerned that structure creates a situation whereby HMPPS are effectively ‘marking their own homework’. We recommend that HMIP should be given additional resources to follow-up on recommendations, and hold prisons to account when they do not achieve recommendations. We also recommend that Ministers should take personal responsibility for ensuring that recommendations are implemented. They should report to Parliament on progress against recommendations at intervals. We suggest that could be done by means of a letter to this Committee. We, as a Committee, intend to continue to hold Ministers and officials to account for delivery within individual establishments, particularly when the independent inspectorate highlight urgent concerns.
11 , Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Liverpool (11–22 May 2015)
12 , Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Liverpool (4–15 September 2017)
13 Figures round 101%
15 Q19 - 22
16 , Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Swansea (7, 8, 14–17 August 2017)
17 , Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Wormwood Scrubbs (31 July–11 August 2017)
18 : HM Prison Nottingham
14 February 2018