Skip to content

HMIP publishes HMP Thameside inspection report

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons (HMIP) published their latest report on HMP Thameside, a category B local men's prison based in south-east London that is managed by Serco.

This is the first HMIP inspection Thameside has had since 2017. The inspection was carried out by Chief Inspector, Charlie Taylor.

Although the Inspectors were critical of the amount of time prisoners had spent in their cells and the amount of purposeful activity and education during the Covid lock down, they also commented on ‘the notable positives’.

Prison offender managers contacted prisoners proactively, had a visible presence on the wings and offered good support. Mr Taylor commented: "This was the best provision I had seen during the last year and, because the prison had outsourced offender management work to Catch 22, staff were not cross-deployed to other duties as we so often see in jails."

There were also improvements in the management of segregation – the unit was used on fewer occasions, the regime was more predictable and staff gave prisoners the help they needed to return to the normal prison location. A small team of forensic psychologists drew up plans to help individuals and wing staff understand what triggered violent behaviour, offering additional support to staff in the segregation unit. Mr Taylor explained: "This service provided all segregation unit staff with regular, one-to-one meetings to talk about the challenges with dealing with this complex and often violent group of prisoners. Other prisons would do well to emulate and learn from this practice."

In addition, the prison found creative ways of encouraging its sizeable younger population to improve their behaviour. Its equine project, bringing horses on site, offered the opportunity to take part in an accredited programme in animal therapy and had shown promising results.

The prison's approach to dealing with gang members was equally innovative. Members from different gangs were not separated – instead they remained living together and work was undertaken to improve relationships between them. Early indications were encouraging – in the previous six months, only seven prisoners had been segregated for their own protection and there was little evidence of individuals self-isolating on the wings.

Mr Taylor commended the prison on tackling some difficult issues. He said: "Inspectors were impressed to see leaders challenging some poor staff practice and disciplining or dismissing those who had seriously breached the rules." However, he noted: "the prison's biggest, ongoing challenge will remain recruiting and retaining enough high-quality staff so that it can expand the regime and make sure that prisoners, particularly those on remand, are given opportunities for education and training."

David Bamford, Serco Prison Director at HMP Thameside gave the following statement reflecting on the report:

“The Covid pandemic has been extremely challenging for everyone at Thameside Prison, and we have rigorously followed UK Health Security Agency advice about restricting movements and opening up. I appreciate that this restricted regime has been difficult for the prisoners, but I am pleased to say that there has not been a single Covid related death at the prison, despite there having been a high number of prisoners, officers and support staff taken sick with the disease.

“I am pleased that the Report also highlights a number of good practices in the prison including our leadership team; the work of our team of forensic psychologists, which brought horses on-site and offered a 10-session accredited programme in animal therapy for young adults as well as recently offering the Duke of Edinburgh Award and ‘Choices and Changes’; our much improved Segregation Unit; our increased use of Body Worn Video cameras and the innovative work we are doing to incentivise better behaviour from younger prisoners and improve relationships between gang members.

“As the restrictions from Covid are progressively lifted, we know that we have much work to do and we are determined to ensure that HMP Thameside is a prison that is safe and secure and offers prisoners the opportunities they need to help prevent reoffending.”

The full inspection report can be found here: