Lincoln Prison is now a cleaner and safer place, but there is still work to do, according a report published on April 2 following an inspection at the city jail in November 2013.
The overcrowded 19th century local prison holds some 700 inmates and the visit from HM Inspectorate of Prisons took place while the prison was dealing with the aftermath of the death of a prisoner, while another was charged with murder.
The report noted HMP Lincoln was “a safer place” and “much cleaner,” with “innovative work to identify the needs of new prisoners.”
However, the inspection found there was “unquestionably more to do to improve safety” and insufficient prison clothing, while the new segregation facility “was of such flimsy construction it was barely fit for purpose,” and conditions in the first night centre for prisoners were poor due to dirty cells.
Almost a third of prisoners said that illegal drugs were easily available in the prison, according to the report, including a new psychoactive drug called ‘Black Mamba’.
The number of prisoner complaints was also high, with inspectors finding that responses did not always address the issues raised and “many were dismissive.”
Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, wrote in the report: “Overall Lincoln is a much improved prison from 15 months ago.
“There has been evident progress in all aspects of the prison’s operation and, although there is much to do, work is incremental, grounded and feels sustainable.
“The prison is well led, motivated and working to a plan.
“There are grounds to be optimistic about the prison’s future, although the perceptions of the prisoner population and structures to support effective communication with them should be explored further.
“The governor [Peter Wright] and his staff should, nevertheless, be congratulated for what they have achieved,” he concluded.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney commented: “It is very pleasing that the inspectorate are really encouraged by the findings of this inspection and that there have been improvements across the board, affecting most aspects of the prison’s work.
“These improvements are a great credit to the Prison Governor, Peter Wright, his management team and prison officers, who I know have worked extremely hard – and will work hard in the future – to continue to make improvements across the board.
“Clearly, there are still areas that need to be addressed further – including in relation to safety and the condition of the first night wing.
“Nonetheless, all of us in our city and county who campaigned so hard to keep HMP Lincoln open – a prison that employs over 500 people and generates nearly £11 million for the Lincolnshire economy – will be very much heartened by this report.”