HMP Holme House, a large men’s prison in Stockton-on-Tees, has been judged as 'not sufficiently good across the board' by HM Inspectorate of Prisons.
The inspection took place before lockdown. It found that the purposeful activity had declined from 'reasonably good' in 2017 to 'not sufficiently good'.
Assessments of safety, respect and rehabilitation and release planning remained 'not sufficiently good'.
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said the impact of COVID-19 on the prison was not addressed in the inspection report, “although our judgements about outcomes in the prison (in February and March 2020) were concerning".
The report also found that the prison was still not safe enough and arrangements to receive and induct new prisoners were inadequate.
It said that while overall levels of violence were consistent with similar prisons, much more could have been done to improve the safety and well-being of prisoners and reduce violence further. More attention was also needed, it said, to ensure that the use of force by staff was always fully accounted for.
Mr Clarke did also say that there had been significant investment in and a coordinated strategy to deliver some “very impressive reductions in the availability of illicit substances, something that had been almost out of control in 2017".
There had been three self-inflicted deaths and self-harm had increased since the previous inspection. Mr Clark said the prison’s response to this priority could best be described as "inconsistent".
The report found that Holme House had embedded a reasonably effective key worker scheme, but at the heart of many of the prison’s problems were poor staff-prisoner relationships which were due partly to staff indifference.
Mr Clarke said that the "promotion of equality was improving and outcomes in health were good" but the report stated that "time out of cell and the general level of prisoner engagement with education and work did not reflect what is normally expected of a training prison".
The completion of risk management casework was more up to date than it had been in 2017, although direct contact between offender managers and prisoners was disappointing, according to the report. Public protection measures were found to be satisfactory and prisoners had good access to a range of offending behaviour interventions.
Phil Copple, HM Prison and Probation Service Director General of Prisons, responded by saying swift action had been taken to make improvements.