HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Liverpool Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Follow-up on the 2015 inspection report

1.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. 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. (Paragraph 17)

Oversight of HMP Liverpool and accountability for ensuring improvement

2.National, regional and local management failed in their oversight of HMP Liverpool, and the evidence suggests that, in varying degrees, that failure was not limited to one establishment. We welcome actions taken at HMP Liverpool to try and improve the current situation and take reassurance from the publication of an action plan. We note, however, that the action plan put in place in HMP Liverpool in 2015 did not result in the improvements required. This time it is imperative that the Governor, with support from regional and national management, is able to deliver on her plans. We are concerned about the failings of oversight at HMP Liverpool and that it appears that regional and national management were unaware of the extent of the decline of the establishment. We welcome Michael Spurr’s comments about reducing the span of control at Director level in order to give them more capacity to oversee establishments. We are, however, surprised that this issue has not been identified and addressed before. We hope that this strengthens the “above establishment level” management, so that, in future, regional management (including the Deputy Director of Custody) are aware of issues; so that those issues are reported to HMPPS centrally; and so that it is clear what action is being taken. The Committee will keep the efficacy of changes under close review. (Paragraph 23)

3.We were not satisfied with the explanations we heard of the rising backlog of maintenance tasks, and we have concerns about how well the facilities management contract was working at HMP Liverpool. The performance of contractors in prisons has a direct effect on the conditions in which prisoners must live, and contractors are in receipt of large sums of public money. We believe that the systems for managing contractors and penalising poor performance are not sufficiently transparent. We recommend that major contracts are subject to a public framework which outlines expectations, performance and penalties levied against the provider. If contractors are penalised for poor performance there should be an annual public notification of where, why and by how much, as a percentage of the value of the contract. (Paragraph 25)

4.It should not have been the case that prisoners in HMP Liverpool were living in cells deemed not fit by the Inspectorate and we welcome the new Minister, Rory Stewart MP’s, commitment to a “back to basics” approach. While the Committee agrees with his sentiment, particularly when there is a prison in difficulty as was the case at Liverpool, we also note the need for a long-term, system wide response. We recommend that the Minister, the Ministry of Justice and HMPPS publish a plan to resolve the persistent overcrowding of the estate, so that governors do not feel pressure to house men or women in cells that are deemed unfit. It is clear that in order to be successful, such a plan must aim to reduce the prison population and / or increase safe and decent capacity, and we will return to this question. (Paragraph 29)

5.We welcome efforts by NHS England to improve the situation at Liverpool. It is clear to the Committee that delivering healthcare is not just about the healthcare provider, but also about the relationship between prisons and healthcare teams at local, regional and national level. We welcome the commitment from HMPPS and NHS England to publish the Partnership Agreement in April, so there is a clear commitment to working together to ensure that prisoners have access to decent healthcare. We request that the Ministry set out how it plans to ensure that gaps during which there is no formal working arrangement between justice and healthcare systems do not occur in future. (Paragraph 33)

6.We are concerned about several issues highlighted by the inspection of HMP Liverpool. We take the view that these problems are symptomatic of wider failings across the prison estate which the Government should take extremely seriously. We are not convinced that existing plans to reorganise the way in which HMPPS operates above establishment level will be sufficient to improve conditions. We will continue to pay close attention to the Government’s plans to improve oversight of prisons, and we intend to play a part in ensuring that Ministers, officials and individual prisons are held to account when the Inspectorate identifies urgent and serious failings. (Paragraph 34)





14 February 2018