Violence and self-harm increase at jail which is home to many of Wigan’s crooks and suspects

Forest Bank
Forest Bank

Violence and self-harm are on the increase at a jail which is home to many of Wigan’s crooks and suspects.

HMP Forest Bank in Salford was found generally to have remained a well-led, competent and confident prison since its previous inspection in 2016.

But HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said it was evident in May this year that safety at the institution had “deteriorated”.

Inspectors found violence, mostly prisoner on prisoner and much of it serious, had doubled in three years. Use of force by staff had also risen, though inspectors found evidence of effective de-escalation of incidents by staff.

A third of inmates said they felt unsafe, Mr Clarke said “a situation that was even worse among vulnerable prisoners where the finding was 52 per cent.

There needed to be greater focus and co-ordination to address violence, by, for example, incentivising good behaviour and consistently holding to account those who behaved poorly.”

Security generally was applied proportionately and inspectors identified the management and use of intelligence as a strength, with close working relationships with police and robust staff anti-corruption arrangements. Many prisoners suggested that access to drugs was comparatively easy but the positive mandatory drug test rate was lower than at most similar prisons.

Self-harm had increased markedly since 2016. Some improvements had been made to case management support processes, although a good scheme to invite families to case management reviews was only used intermittently.

Relations between staff and prisoners were said to be respectful and polite, and most inmates were positive about most aspects of daily life while accommodation was generally clean and bright. But 60 per cent of single cells were doubled up and therefore overcrowded, and much furniture and cell equipment was damaged or missing.