HMIP Inspections of Franklands

The prison was given an inspection in January 2020, the full report can be read at the Ministry of Justice web site, just follow the links below. In their latest report the inspectors said:

HMP Frankland, near Durham, is one of the country’s most secure prisons. Holding 840 convicted adult men at the time of our inspection, over 250 were classified as category A, the highest security classification, and of these, nine were considered high-risk category A. Almost all those held were serving sentences in excess of ten years, with the majority serving indeterminate or life sentences. The majority had committed the most serious, and often violent, offences and posed very great risks to the public. The security measures applied at Frankland, as well the depth of custody experienced, reflected fully these risks.

The prison included four wings (A to D) holding mainly vulnerable prisoners, and three newer wings (F to J) holding more mainstream offenders. The most modern facility was the Westgate units, which provided psychologically-informed interventions and sought to treat complex personality disorders. The prison also contained a ‘separation unit’ where a small number of individuals who were judged to present a particular risk to national security were held. This facility will be inspected separately at a later date, so did not form part of this inspection.

Our findings at this inspection, consistent with our findings when we last visited in 2016, showed that Frankland continued to ensure reasonable outcomes against all our tests of a healthy prison. A stable population meant daily movement through reception was limited, but new prisoners were received and inducted well. Most prisoners reported feeling safe and overall levels of violence were low, despite all the risks. Some good work was taking place to ensure this continued to be the case, and although use of force had increased, it remained lower than the level seen in similar prisons. Accountability for its use was generally good. The regime offered in segregation remained limited but relationships were good and there were credible joint working initiatives to better case manage individuals and break the cycle of long-term segregation.

The security department was extensive and well resourced. The management of intelligence was a priority and we were told of robust procedures for monitoring potential extremism and corruption. Although lower than at prisons generally, drug testing suggested that more illicit drugs were available than in comparison to other high security prisons, and prisoners suggested to us that drugs were easy to get hold of.

Since we last inspected, there had been one self-inflicted death and levels of self-harm had increased and were now higher than at similar prisons. The prison’s response to this challenge was mixed and it was clear the issue needed greater prioritisation. Case management of those in crisis, for example, varied greatly, although prisoners in crisis we spoke to nevertheless felt cared for.

Frankland remained a reasonably respectful prison. Relationships were relaxed and informal, and most prisoners felt respected by staff. The environment and living conditions were satisfactory throughout most of the prison and arrangements to ensure meaningful consultation were, for the most part, adequate, as were those to deal with applications and complaints. The promotion of equality and diversity, however, needed improvement and required greater prioritisation. The chaplaincy in contrast was a strength. Outcomes in healthcare as well as in drug and substance misuse services were good.

In the context of a settled and stable training establishment we were surprised to find about 30% of prisoners locked up during the working day, including the majority of those who had reached retirement age. That aside, leaders and managers had worked well together to ensure that the quality of regime and education offered was reasonably good. The curriculum generally met need, although accreditation in workshops and prison work was lacking. The quality of teaching and learning was good and assistance from peer supporters was useful. Achievements were generally high despite low attendance in education. Our colleagues in Ofsted judged the overall effectiveness of education, skills and work provision as ‘good’.

The prison had a good understanding of prisoner risk and need, but we identified some weaknesses in the prison’s approach to offender management and sentence planning. Staff had high caseloads and the approach to case management was too often poorly coordinated. That said, most prisoners had an up-to-date assessment (OASys) and most were of good quality. We found public protection arrangements to be robust. The prison had enough offending behaviour interventions to meet most need, augmented by some very good psychology-led one-to-one work. The offender personality disorder pathway worked as well as other psychological approaches delivered on the Westgate units, which were recognised as centres of excellence.

Frankland is a large and complex high security prison with many challenges, managing some notable risks. The outcomes that prisoners experienced, despite this, continued to be good. We leave the prison with a number of recommendations we hope will assist further improvement.

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
March 2020

Return to Franklands

To read the full reports, go to the Ministry of Justice site or follow the links below:

  • HMP Frankland (1.70 MB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Frankland (13–24 January 2020)
  • HMP Frankland (804.65 kB), Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Frankland (22 February – 4 March 2016)
  • HMP Frankland, Unannounced inspection of HMP Frankland (10–14 December 2012)
  • HMP Frankland, Unannounced full follow-up inspection of HMP Frankland (9 – 19 November 2010)
  • HMP Frankland, Announced inspection of HMP Frankland (4-8 February 2008)