Vale prison praised for low drug use and bullying but concerns remain over condition of cells and care of disabled and older inmates

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Springhill Prison in Grendon Underwood has been praised for providing a safe environment for inmates despite problems with the ‘poor condition’ of their cells.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, found that HMP Springhill remained a safe and well-run prison when he made an unannounced inspection of the men’s open jail.

He found several improvements from when the prison was last inspected in 2008.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

> There was very little bullying and very few instances of self-harm.

> Reception had improved and refurbishment had provided rooms where prisoners could be interviewed in private.

> Security was proportionate and drug use was commendably low.

> Staff-prisoner relationships were generally good.

> The provision of health care had improved overall.

> There were very good educational, training and work opportunities.

> ‘Resettlement provision’ was generally good with positive outcomes while ‘offender management and public protection was very good’.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

> Despite some refurbishment, most prisoner accommodation remained in poor condition and had deteriorated in some areas.

> Although ‘diversity work’ had improved, there remained significant gaps in planning care for prisoners with disabilities and older prisoners.

Mr Hardwick said: “Overall this was a good inspection. The prison has made considerable progress in many important areas. Springhill shows clearly the benefit that positive personal relationships can have along with an integrated working day that reflects life beyond prison. We have identified some areas that still require work but we acknowledge the improvements made by the establishment.

Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, added: “I am very pleased the chief inspector has acknowledged the progress made at Springhill. It is a tribute to the governor and staff that it is a safe environment, that staff-prisoner relationships are good, and that offender management and resettlement are well managed.

“The work that Springhill does helps reduce re-offending and ensures the public are better protected.”