The HM Inspectorate of Prisons has carried out their first full inspection of HMP Hindley since 2017 through an unannounced visit in November and December 2023. In the previous inspection the prison was deemed ‘not sufficiently good’ in tests of safety and respect; poor in purposeful activity, and reasonably good in rehabilitation and release planning. The most recent inspection remains unchanged with fundamental weaknesses highlighted below:

  • Little purposeful work education or training: whilst being recognised as a ‘training prison’ 50% of prisoners were found to be locked up during the working day, while a further 28% were only employed on a part-time basis.

  • A tsunami of illegal drugs: mandatory drug testing revealed 52% of prisoners tested positive for illicit substances.

  • High levels of recorded violence and self-harm: in the last 12 months there had been 494 incidents of self-harm, placing Hindley in the top 3 among comparable prisons.

  • Prison officers failing to maintain effective relationships with prisoners: high levels of staff turnovers and inexperience with too many staff lacking confidence in enforcing basic standards and failing to challenge low-level poor behaviour.

  • Infrastructure deemed to be in a poor condition: investment was recognised as heavily needed to improve cramped accommodation, old kitchen, the physical security of the prison, and a need to increase workshop space.

  • Complaints regarding food: 25% of prisoners stated they did not get enough to eat.

  • Weak responses to prisoner applications and requests: the timeliness and quality of responses were not, for example, monitored effectively.

HMP Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor said HMP Hindley “is facing an uphill battle: many prisoners arriving at the jail had an existing drug problem, and a large minority had known links to organised crime, so it’s unsurprising that the prison had a near-tsunami of drugs. The situation was so bad that mandatory drug testing found more than half of prisoners were on drugs at any one time”. “Combined with the indolence, boredom and frustration created by a really poor regime, and some very inexperienced staff, it is no surprise that the prison just wasn’t safe enough.”

As a Category C training and resettlement prison home for up to 600 men, the fact there are such clear systemic issues regarding prisoner safety, education and rehabilitation is deeply concerning.

Whilst these issues are specific to HMP Hindley, they reflect broader systemic shortcomings within UK prison and healthcare regimes which ultimately contribute to the loss of lives and demand urgent reform.

Recently, our inquest team represented the family of Dylan Woodhead in an Article 2 jury inquest into his death at HMP Hindley.

The jury found a variety of concerns as summarised by their findings;

The deceased was found on the 8th January 2021 in cell E231 at HMP Hindley at 08:07 hours. It was not possible to determine the exact time of death, however the last confirmed interaction with the deceased was timed at 19:36 hours on the 7th January 2021. Prison Officers entered the cell at 08:07 hours, CPR was attempted by one of the prison officers. An ambulance called, paramedics arrived, and the death was pronounced at 08:23 hours.

The deceased was lawfully detained at HMP Forest Bank on the 15th September 2020. A custodial sentence was imposed on the deceased on 4th December 2020 with a duration of 30 months. The deceased was transferred to HMP Hindley, arriving on 29th December 2020.

Upon arrival at HMP Hindley the deceased was screened at reception. Due to the COVID-19 related restrictions, a second screening which would normally have been carried out 72 hours later was carried out at the same time as the first screening.

No ACCT (assessment, care in custody and teamwork) was assessed as necessary on admission to HMP Hindley, despite the deceased’s medical background, which included a history of attempted suicide and self-harm. Throughout the deceased’s time within the custodial system, no ACCT was ever deemed necessary.

On the morning of 8th January 2021, the Operational Support Group Officer (OSG) deliberately did not undertake the mandated welfare check, nor did they carry out ‘pegging’ checks overnight. The OSG further completed documentation that the welfare and pegging checks had been done. These failings were accepted by the Ministry of Justice.

On the morning of 8th January 2021 at 08:07 hours Dylan was found having ligatured.

If your loved one has passed away while in prison or police custody, we can offer you advice and support throughout the process. To get in touch, either call us on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry through our online form.