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North Yorkshire's prisons inspected


12:00am 7th June 2011

A report's revealed Northallerton's Young Offenders Institute is performing well.

It was deemed an impressively safe and respectful establishment with plenty of activity and a sound focus on resettlement, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an announced inspection of the North Yorkshire prison.

Northallerton now holds adult as well as young adult prisoners and aspires to be the community prison for North Yorkshire.

It is a small prison, with 170 prisoners at the time of inspection.

Safety had greatly improved since its last inspection when many young adults had been drawn from the North West and were dissatisfied with being held far from friends and family.

With a more balanced and local population, violence and bullying had been reduced and staff resorted less frequently to use of force and segregation.

Inspectors were also pleased to find that: 

  • early days were well managed, suicide prevention work was of a high standard, security was proportionate and there was little apparent substance misuse
  • the accommodation, although dating back to the 18th century in places, was clean and well maintained;
  • staff-prisoner relationships were very positive, supported by an impressive personal officer scheme;  
  • there was sufficient purposeful activity and good learning and skills opportunities, and prisoners spent a reasonable amount of time out of their cells; and
  • Northallerton was making progress towards becoming a community prison, with a sound focus on offender management and improved ties to local resettlement opportunities.
  • However, inspectors also noted that:
  • black and minority ethnic and foreign national prisoners were positive about their experience at the prison, but some other aspects of diversity, such as disability and sexuality, required further development; and
  • some resettlement work required greater co-ordination and new needs analyses to understand the changed population profile better.

Nick Hardwick said:

"In some ways, Northallerton is a case study of the benefits that can accrue from having a small prison, with a population drawn mostly from the local area.

"The prison was also well led and had a clear vision of itself as North Yorkshire's community prison.

"The result was a safe and respectful prison, which was both purposeful and beginning to focus on its resettlement function.

"Overall, staff and managers should be rightly pleased by what has been achieved in a relatively short period of time."

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

"The Chief Inspector recognises that Northallerton is a safe establishment with plenty of activity and a sound focus on resettlement, helped by good staff prisoner relationships.

"The Governor and staff are working hard to establish a community prison and will continue to improve diversity and resettlement co-ordination.

"Enabling prisoners to have purposeful activities, along with effective resettlement, reduces the likelihood of reoffending on release."

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