Safety slammed at Peterborough prison after jail hit by ‘ravages of the epidemic of drugs’

HMP Peterborough
HMP Peterborough

Inspectors have slammed safety standards at HMP Peterborough after the jail was hit by ‘the ravages of drugs and violence.’

The male side of the privately run prison in Saville Road, Westwood had been rated as a ‘safe’ prison at the last inspection in 2015 - but after inspectors visited earlier this year, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons said: “The simple fact was that while Peterborough was a safe prison in 2015 (the previous inspection), our judgement on this occasion was that safety had declined to such an extent that we had no choice other than to reduce our assessment in this area by two levels, to ‘not sufficiently good’. That is the second lowest assessment in HMI Prisons’ “healthy prison tests.

“In common with many other prisons, Peterborough has suffered the ravages of the epidemic of drugs – especially new psychoactive substances (NPS) – that have flowed into them in recent years and the debt, bullying and violence they cause.”

More than half of prisoners told inspectors it was easy to get hold of illicit drugs, and more than one in five had acquired a drug habit since entering the jail.

Mr Clarke said: “HMP Peterborough still had much work to do to reduce the violence that had flowed from the influx of drugs into the establishment.

“Nevertheless, at the time of this inspection the signs were promising that further progress could be made. It is essential that the prison is restored to being a safe place, so that all the good work that was being delivered in so many areas is not put in jeopardy.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, said: “HMP Peterborough continues to provide a positive regime with good levels of purposeful activity and an effective resettlement scheme to reduce reoffending. As with other prisons across the estate, Peterborough has faced a rise in the illicit supply of drugs and a population more prone to violence – tackling this is a priority and progress is being made. The prison’s Director will use the report’s recommendations to support further improvement.”

An HMP Peterborough spokesperson said: “We welcome the Chief Inspector’s report and are pleased that the excellent work undertaken by the Peterborough team has been recognised, especially around resettlement and purposeful activity, which are so important to the rehabilitation of offenders.

“HMP Peterborough is one of the most complex prisons in the country, with a challenging population. The report rightly highlights the issues of drugs and violence and recognises that these are issues faced by most prisons. In this context, the report remarks positively on the determined and energetic approaches being taken to tackling these issues, which have seen a reduction in levels of violence. This progress has continued to improve, but will remain, alongside healthcare provision, as a matter of the highest priority.”

HMP Peterborough is run by Sodexo, and is the only prison in the country with both a male and female wing.

At the time of the inspection, there were 810 prisoners on the male side of the jail.

A copy of the report is available at www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/