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How we improve outcomes

Our inspections have two main functions: to draw public attention to the treatment of and conditions for prisoners and detainees and, by highlighting both failings and successes, to support leaders to improve outcomes for the people in prisons and detention.

Find about our expectations for different types of detention.

During each inspection we identify issues of concern and highlight examples of notable positive practice.

Find out more about notable positive practice.

Inspectors use a combination of data, documents, and interviews to build a picture of the treatment of and conditions for those detained, leading them through the four healthy prison tests and the scoring system, to make sound, evidence-based judgements.

After each inspection, we publish a report. This outlines up to 15 key concerns for each establishment, highlighting between three and six of these as priority concerns.

Priority and key concerns are summarised at the beginning of our reports and the issues are explored in more detail in the main body of the report.

Action plans

After our inspection HM Prison and Probation Service (or the Home Office for immigration detention) will send us an action plan, detailing how the establishment intends to improve. We publish this plan on our website, alongside the inspection report.

It is the responsibility of prison leaders to consider the best way to respond to our concerns and use their resources and expertise to find solutions. HM Prison and Probation Service or the Home Office should work with the establishment to support this progress.

We are not a regulator and cannot close prisons. If we have serious concerns, we will raise them as an Urgent Notification with the Secretary of State for Justice. Following an Urgent Notification, or if we judge an establishment to be offering very poor outcomes for detainees, we will undertake an independent review of progress (IRP).

Find out more about Urgent Notifications and IRPs.