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Prisons: Wakefield

Volume 737: debated on Tuesday 12 September 2023

The most recent annual prison performance ratings for 2022-23 were published in July. His Majesty’s Prison and Young Offender Institution New Hall was rated a 2, which is a matter of concern. HMP Wakefield was rated a 4, or outstanding.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons inspected HMP Wakefield last year and had several concerns, including many that remained unaddressed since its previous visit. Those concerns included infrastructure that is in such a poor condition that it needs investment, insufficient healthcare staff, a lack of mental health interventions and too few activity places. The prison leadership and staff continue to do the right thing and should be praised, but when will the Minister play his part and get our prisons back on track?

The hon. Gentleman is right to talk about the inspectorate of prisons reports, which are a very important part of our system and help to hold the Prison Service and us to account. In the case of Wakefield, as he mentions, it was judged a 3, which is reasonably good, for safety, for respect and for rehabilitation and release planning. There was more to do on purposeful activity, which I readily accept is a theme we have seen in a number of reports from different prisons over time, particularly since covid. The inspector also mentioned the strong leadership at the prison and that the prison was settled. We need to continue to make progress, but I join the hon. Gentleman in playing tribute to the leadership at that prison and throughout our Prison Service, and to all the brilliant staff who make it what it is.