Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Urgent action to overhaul Exeter prison [December 2022]

The press release issued by the Ministry of Justice on 16 December 2022.

  • new blueprint to improve safety
  • extra staff and training to bolster support for vulnerable prisoners
  • new collaboration with the Shannon Trust to boost education on offer for offenders

Prisons Minister Damian Hinds has outlined a package of urgent measures to rapidly improve safety at HMP Exeter – including extra frontline staff to support prisoners struggling with poor mental health.

Today’s (16 December 2022) news forms part of the government’s response to His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) inspection last month, which identified serious failings at the jail resulting in an Urgent Notification – the lowest possible rating for a prison.

As part of the Urgent Notification process, Ministers have 28 days to respond to the notice and set out how they will make the rapid change needed.

In just 4 weeks, significant improvements to the running of the prison have been made, including:

  • Extra frontline staff transferred to support the supervision of offenders struggling with mental health issues
  • New training for all staff to better spot the signs of poor mental health and ensure vulnerable offenders are getting the help they need
  • Improved information and support for those arriving at the prison from the courts for the first time – a period where prisoners are often at their most vulnerable
  • Extra teaching staff joining the prison and a new collaboration with the Shannon Trust to boost education and learning activities key to rehabilitation
  • A new CCTV system in the works to improve safety on the wings

The action plan published today also details how Ministers will continue to build upon these improvements and hold the prison to account over the coming weeks and months.

Prisons Minister Damian Hinds said:

Last month’s inspection found unacceptable failings at HMP Exeter, and today I am setting out how we plan on rectifying this serious situation without delay.

Extra frontline staff and improved mental health training for all officers will ensure vulnerable offenders get the help they need when they need it, while renewed education and work opportunities will rehabilitate prisoners and cut crime.

The government introduced the Urgent Notification process in 2017 to ensure immediate, urgent action was taken when necessary to address serious concerns identified by inspectors.