HMP Lowdham Grange praised for handling of Covid outbreak

Published: 5 Mar 2021

In its latest Report published today, HM Inspector of Prisons has praised the management and the team at HMP Lowdham Grange for its handling of an outbreak of Covid last year, saying they ‘found a well-led prison that had faced some considerable challenges during the pandemic’.

The Inspector highlights several aspects of the handling of the pandemic, including:

  • The leadership team had worked effectively in partnership with health care providers and an outbreak control team, that included the NHS and Public Health England (PHE), to bring it under control.

  • Arrangements to have all prisoners and staff tested were introduced promptly to support a local track-and-trace scheme to isolate asymptomatic cases.

  • Prison leaders had identified lessons to be learned from the outbreak and had taken a robust approach to minimising the risks of transmission, meaning that a smaller outbreak shortly before our visit was well managed and swiftly contained.

  • Communication with staff and prisoners about the current restrictions was effective and social distancing was well promoted.

  • The prison had invested in technology such as proximity sensors to alert staff who inadvertently breached distancing protocols. 

  • In addition to testing of new prisoner arrivals, staff were offered weekly COVID-19 testing, and all wore fluid-resistant face masks.

  • Frontline staff were clearly visible when cells were unlocked, and we observed good relationships between staff and prisoners. This was reflected in our survey in which 79% of prisoners said staff treated them with respect.

Commenting on the Report, Mark Hanson, Serco Prison Director, said: “The last twelve months have been incredibly challenging for everyone in the prison. Throughout this time our priority has been the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone in the prison and I am pleased that this Report recognises all the work that people have put in.

“I am hugely grateful to all our employees, our NHS healthcare providers, Public Health England and all our other partners for everything they have done, particularly during the Covid outbreak last autumn.  I would also pay tribute to the way in which the prisoners have responded to the restrictions that we have placed on them and have fully recognised that these measures have been for their safety.

“But as always there is more to do, and we will continue to work hard to ensure that the prison is a safe place that the community can be proud of.”