Drugs ’easy to get’ at Hatfield Prison, Doncaster, report says

Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick.

Inmates at Doncaster’s Hatfield Prison say drugs are ‘reasonably easy’ to get hold of, inspectors have revealed.

An official report into the jail, based on an inspection in August, revealed there had been 10 drug finds and one alcohol find in the previous six months before its survey.

It also revealed so-called ‘legal highs’ were becoming an issue at the jail.

It stated: “Prisoners told us it was possible to get drugs reasonably easily in the prison.”

The security department and drugs team were generally sighted on the risks associated with so-called legals highs - like Black Mamba and Spice – new drugs that mimic the effects of illegal drugs, such as cannabis, heroin or amphetamines, and may have unpredictable and life-threatening effects, as well as diverted medication availability.

But it stated there was a comprehensive and realistic prison-wide strategy document outlining the establishment’s approach to supply reduction.

The report stated the prison had come through change and uncertainty and was now confidently establishing its priorities and showing significant improvement, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, as he published the report today, which followed an unannounced inspection of the open prison.

The prison had at one point been part of the South Yorkshire cluster of prisons and managed collaboratively alongside HMPs Moorland and Lindholme.

At the conclusion of a failed market test in late 2013, the prison was retained in the public sector and since April 2015 has been re-established as a separate institution.

The prison holds about 270 category D adult male prisoners and is on two sites – the original Hatfield site and a new addition, a disused section of neighbouring HMP Lindholme, now referred to as the Lakes Unit.

Hatfield achieved inspectors’ highest assessment across all four tests of a healthy prison – safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement.

Inspectors reported: good work to develop the Lakes Unit as an effective reception/induction facility and nearly all prisoners said they felt

safe on their first night;

Little violence or self-harm, security was applied proportionately and illicit drug use appeared low;

The environment at both sites was generally very good and living conditions and access to amenities had improved;

Relationships between staff and prisoners were excellent;

Prisoners had good access to an open prison regime;

The provision of work, training and education was focused, well planned and coherent and assessed as outstanding by Ofsted; Excellent partnerships with local employers were providing high quality training, employment and progression opportunities in paid and unpaid roles;

Teachers and managers had high expectations of prisoners;

Although the prison’s approach to resettlement would have benefited from better coordination and greater attention given to offender management work, all prisoners had an allocated offender supervisor and most risk assessments were of good quality;

And there was good partnership working between the prison, education providers, the National Careers Service and the community rehabilitation company.

Mr Hardwick said: “Hatfield was a very good prison. It was well led and had a clear vision of what it was trying to achieve. Change and new initiatives were thought through and planned well, and there was a competence about the way new work was delivered. Prisoners were treated with respect, risk was managed properly and proportionately and prisoners had an incentive to invest in what they could achieve for themselves and their futures. The governor and his team deserve credit for their work in developing this effective prison.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “As the Chief Inspector has found, Hatfield is a safe and well-run prison, where prisoners are being given excellent support to turn their lives around upon release.

“The Governor and his staff deserve huge credit for their crucial role in rehabilitating offenders, including providing high quality education, training and employment opportunities.

“Staff will now use this report to build on the successes and achieve further improvement.”