Former Ombudsman Sue McAllister publishes final 2021/22 Annual Report

Former Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Sue McAllister CB:

“As I prepare to leave this office, and in the context of all that we have achieved during my time in the role, I know that there remains more to be done and I have confidence in the abilities of the team I leave behind.”

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman 2021/22 Annual Report. For decorative purposes only.

Click here to download the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman 2021/22 Annual Report

In the final Annual Report drafted by Sue McAllister before she retired in June 2022, Sue said “This is the fourth, and final, Annual Report of my tenure as Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, and I write this foreword as I prepare to step down at the end of June 2022.”

In the year covered by this report, we received 4,442 complaints, 11% more than the 4,010 we received in the previous year. We started 329 fatal incident investigations, a 23% decrease on the 425 we started in the previous year.

Key findings:

  • We began 128 investigations into the deaths of prisoners aged 60 and over. There are specific challenges with managing older prisoners (the fastest growing cohort within the prison population in England and Wales), and HMPPS must ensure they have access to the appropriate health and social care needed to address long-term health conditions.
  • We found cases where prisoners with significant care and support needs were not effectively safeguarded. Prisoners with care needs were left in unsafe conditions and engaged in self-neglecting behaviour without intervention. This is a complex issue, but the input and expertise of prison, health and social care staff is required, especially with the rising elderly population.
  • We launched a year-long pilot in September to investigate the deaths of those who die within 14 days of their release from prison. We started investigations into 25 post-release deaths and so far, our investigations have highlighted the need for strong communication between prison, probation and other agencies to meet the complex needs and support the wellbeing of people released from prison.
  • A frequently misunderstood, but key, aspect of a PPO investigation is considering whether the service in remit properly applied the relevant existing policies when making the decision or taking the action that led to the complaint. Sometimes the policies are complex or do not provide quite enough clear guidance to cover any given set of circumstances. However, we have also found that sometimes local policies diverge from national policies in ways that are unhelpful.