HM Prison Forest Bank
|Location||Pendlebury, near Manchester|
|Security class||Adult Male/Category B|
|Capacity||1424 (March 2010)|
|Managed by||Sodexo Justice Services|
Forest Bank Prison was constructed on the site of the former Agecroft Power Station. The 25-year design, construct, manage and finance (DCMF) contract was won by Kalyx (formerly UKDS) in 1997 and it opened in January 2000.
In November 2002 a report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons praised Forest Bank for its staff-prisoner relations, management structure, increased staffing levels and levels of association between inmates. However the report also noted that many of the prison staff at Forest Bank lacked experience and that there was insufficient purposeful activity, with fewer than half the prisoners engaged in meaningful work or education.
In 2004 it emerged that a prison officer at Forest Bank had been caught trying to sell heroin to inmates. The officer was caught with 147 wraps of the drug hidden in his shoes when he started his shift. The officer was jailed for the offence.
In March 2005 an inmate escaped from Forest Bank while being taken to hospital in a taxi. The prisoner was handcuffed to two prison officers as they travelled from the prison to the nearby Hope Hospital, when the taxi was stopped by two men who threatened the guards with a gun, forcing them to let the inmate free.
In December of the same year the prison was severely criticised by the Chief Inspector of Prisons for high levels of violence and drug taking amongst inmates. The inspection found that in one month alone more than 2 kg of cannabis, 60g of heroin and 4.6g of cocaine were found at Forest Bank, and 40 per cent of compulsory drug tests were positive. The report also found a significant deterioration in safety for staff and inmates at the prison with routine intimidation of staff, prisoner assaults on other prisoners running at 25 a month and staff turnover of 25 per cent a year. There had also been 2,500 prisoner discipline hearings in six months.
In February 2006 another inmate escaped from Forest Bank while visiting hospital. The prisoner managed to escape from two prison guards and fled from the Manchester Royal Infirmary wearing only a surgical gown.
In May 2010 another inmate, Michael O'Donnell, escaped from Forest Bank. The inmate cut off a section of his own ear in order to gain release from the facility in an ambulance, albeit with 3 prison guards in attandence. The ambulance was stopped in Agecroft Road (A6044) by a gang of armed men who released O'Donnell and made off.
O'Donnell was recaptured 28 May 2010. He was sentenced to 9 1/2 yrs on 29 May 2010 and was sent to HMP Strangeways. He was found hanged in his cell at HMP Strangeways Wednesday 23 June 2010.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10404201
In November 2010 HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick noted in his report on the prison that some young inmates had been tied up in their bed linen and beaten by other prisoners. The report also acknowledged that in other matters there were many signs of improvement.
On 10 February 2011, former Forest Bank Prison Nurse Leanne Cartledge, 23, was sentenced to four months in prison for taking a Mobile Phone into the prison to give to Michael O'Donnell, who she was in a relationship with, which he used to help his escape.
In 2011 it emerged that 3 former members of staff at Forest Bank successfully sued Kalyx for unfair dismissal and their treatment by the serving Deputy Director of the prison.
In 2011 Kalyx began to change their name for the second time. They are to become known as Sodexo Justice Services.
A 2013 report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons noted that there was a need for more work, education and training to be made available, with "over 40% of prisoners ... locked up doing nothing during the working day". Since inspection in 2010 there had been "some deterioration in the quality of activity and learning and skills provided".
The prison today
HMP Forest Bank is a Category B local prison although the majority of the inmates are category C. The term 'local' means that this prison holds people on remand to the local courts as well as sentenced prisoners. Adult inmates at Forest Bank come from the courts at Wigan, Leigh, Bolton and Bury. Young Offenders come from courts at Manchester, Oldham, Stockport, Trafford, Tameside, Rochdale and High Peak.
The prison is divided into eight wings (A-H), a healthcare unit and a Care and Separation unit. Accommodation at the prison consists mostly of single cells, with some double cells. All the cells are designed to be safer, having almost no ligature points due to modularisation being the method of construction. The Healthcare Unit at Forest bank has a 20-bed in-patient facility, with a 24-hour nursing care service. There is also a full-time Senior Medical Officer and a Locum Medical Officer at the prison.
Activities at the prison include Production Workshops, Training Workshops and Vocational Training Courses in Motor Mechanics, Industrial Cleaning, Catering and Welding. There is a Visits Hall at Forest Bank, with facilities including a WRVS run canteen, and a play area for children aged 2–12 years.
- "Mixed report for private prison". BBC News. 27 November 2002.
- "Prison officer sold inmates drugs". BBC News. 15 October 2004.
- "Prisoner hunted after taxi escape". BBC News. 3 March 2005.
- Ford, Richard (21 December 2005). "Private prison where 40% of prisoners are on drugs". The Times.
- Keeling, Neal (20 February 2006). "Dangerman slips hospital escort". Manchester Evening News.
- "Prisoner cuts off ear in escape bid". BBC News. 3 May 2010.
- Ministry of Justice pages on Forest Bank
- Information pages on Forest Bank from Sodexo Justice Services
- HMP Forest Bank - HM Inspectorate of Prisons Reports