HMP/YOI Thorn Cross – A safe and effective open prison

Friday, 6 July 2012

Thorn Cross continues to be high-performing and effective, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of an announced inspection of the Cheshire open prison.

The population profile of HMP/YOI Thorn Cross has altered in recent years and it now holds young adult prisoners aged 18 to 25. This change has not affected performance and this report is the latest in a series of good inspection reports.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • Thorn Cross continued to be a safe prison, with low levels of violence and instances of anti-social behaviour properly challenged;
  • incidents of self-harm were similarly low, but those in crisis were well cared for;
  • security was proportionate and abscond rates were low;
  • the general environment was reasonably good and overall, the quality of staff-prisoner relationships was positive;
  • the provision of activity was very good, with sufficient activity to occupy all prisoners and recent increases in the amount of vocational training on offer;
  • the majority of prisoners were engaged in some form of learning and skills, with an increased number achieving qualifications; and
  • the prison used temporary release confidently to support resettlement, and there was some effective through-the-gate mentoring support for a number of released prisoners.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
  • in some cases, formal disciplinary procedures were too easily invoked;
  • arrangements to promote diversity were mixed, and the persistent negative perceptions held by some black and minority ethnic prisoners required more attention;
  • there was a needless and excessive practice of segregating foreign national prisoners when they first arrived in order to check their status again; and
  • offending behaviour work was limited.
Nick Hardwick said:

'Thorn Cross continues to be a high-performing and effective prison. In three of our four healthy prison assessments, we have awarded our highest marking, and managers and staff should be commended for this. This report highlights a small number of important issues requiring improvement and our recommendations will, hopefully, assist in that process.'

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

'I'm pleased that Thorn Cross has been recognised for its continued good work around preparing the young men for their release. As a small, open prison it provides specialist resettlement support in a safe and respectful environment.

'The Governor and her staff will look to build on this report and maintain the high quality of service provided.'

Notes to Editors:

  1. Read a copy of the report.
  2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
  3. This announced inspection was carried out from 13-17 February 2012.
  4. HMP/YOI Thorn Cross is an integrated open prison holding adult and young adult men aged between 18 and 25.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons in HMI Prisons Press Office on 0207 035 2123 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information or to request an interview with Nick Hardwick.
Ministry of Justice


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