Doncaster Prison ‘certainly cannot be allowed to get any worse’

Prisoners too frightened to leave their cells

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HMP Doncaster: “This report describes a very poor prison”


The Serco-run HMP Doncaster has come under heavy fire in the latest HMP Inspectorate of Prisons report. Too many prisoners reported feeling unsafe and were at risk of violence or self-harm.

The prison normally holds just over 1,100 adult and young adult male prisoners, but the population had been temporarily reduced by 100 as part of a response to the difficulties it is facing.


“Safety was a major concern”

Nearly half of prisoners said they had been victimised by other prisoners and nearly a quarter said they felt unsafe at the time of the report. Some even reported feeling too frightened to leave their own cell.

There have been 365 assaults in the last six months – or 36  per 100 prisoners. In February last year a man died as the result of an assault resulting in a murder enquiry.

The report also found that levels of self-harm are higher at Doncaster than at comparable prisons and there have been three self-inflicted deaths in the last 18 months.


“Segregation was overused and use of force was high”

There had been 295 incidents involving the use of force between April and September 2015, but the report found documentation often incomplete. It also said that staff did not always demonstrate sufficient efforts to de-escalate incidents before force was used.

“Special accommodation was used too often and for too long, often without appropriate justification”.

On one occasion, authorisation was given for a prisoner to spend a further 48 hours in special accommodation after he had become compliant. The reason given for the time extension was “to further test compliance”. The report deemed this an unacceptable justification. 


“We observed vermin and many cells were in a terrible state with filth”

The condition of cells at Doncaster prison was found to be unacceptable. Inspectors found broken windows, vermin in some areas and filthy toilets. According to the report,  a large number of prisoners complained that they could not obtain cleaning materials or bedding.


“Staff on the wings were overwhelmed”

Inspectors found a number of decent and caring staff, but said there were insufficient numbers to meet the needs of all prisoners. The report also found that health services had deteriorated since the last inspection, partly as a result of staff shortages. Despite the prisons efforts to drive recruitment the report found there were too few staff and they did not have enough support.


“We saw some very good people during our inspection. However, this report describes a very poor prison”


On their website HMP Doncaster say they are “committed to ensuring a safe, secure and decent prison for everyone”.

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