A SURPRISE inspection has found conditions at Channings Wood Prison have improved but there are still inconsistencies in the way prisoners are cared for.

HMP Inspectorate made the visit in July after a visit in 2019 found the prison was ‘not sufficiently good’ in all four of the Inspectorate’s healthy prison tests, but outcomes were now judged to be reasonably good in safety, respect, and rehabilitation and release planning.

Leaders had a clear sense of purpose and commitment. Charlie Taylor, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: ‘ The governor had an impressive and ambitious vision for the prison, coupled with a credible pandemic recovery plan. His passion and strong commitment to deliver on the prison’s training and resettlement purpose was underpinned by a commendable personal pledge to equip properly every prisoner leaving Channings Wood for a successful release.

HMPI was disappointed to see that despite this rehabilitative ethos, Channings Wood was not providing adequate care for some prisoners. Although the majority reported good care and feeling safe, there was a minority who spoke about credible allegations of violence and bullying, and inspectors were concerned that not only were these prisoners not sufficiently safeguarded, but that they were being held in dirty and ill-equipped cells on arrival.

The availability of offending behaviour programmes was varied, but inspectors were impressed by the Outside the Box programme , which provided excellent support to prisoners with a personality disorder, neurodivergent needs, or learning difficulties. Prisoners received decent support planning for release, for example help opening a bank account, obtaining ID, and getting a job.

Mr Taylor concluded: ‘While the ambition for the prison was encouraging, it remains critical that leaders still pay attention to the fundamentals and safeguard the care and conditions for all their prisoners.’

During the inspection 14 key concerns were identified, of which six should be treated as priorities and requiring immediate attention.