A prison previously branded “dangerous” still has “very significant” problems with violence, inspectors have said.
In one year, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said five inmates at HMP Nottingham were killed or killed themselves.
The board found reported violence actually increased but said other aspects at the prison improved.
The Ministry of Justice recognised there was more to do but said it was “pleased” with progress so far.
The newly-published IMB report looked at the Category B prison from March 2018 to 28 February this year.
Inspection visits began shortly after the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, told the government to make immediate improvements because the prison was in a “dangerous state”.
He described the suicide rate there as “tragic and appalling”, with eight prisoners taking their own lives there between February 2016 and January 2018.
Of the five deaths during the 12 months covered in the report, one is listed as a homicide – with a fellow prisoner due to go on trial charged with murder – while four have been noted as “self-inflicted”.
The last was in December 2018.
Although the board said the prison felt “calmer” by February, the number of reported prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff assaults had gone up, despite the number of inmates going down.
The board said this could be because of better reporting, but added: “It is surprising that [tackling violence] has not been given a higher priority.”
Inspectors also found problems with getting inmates with the greatest mental health issues out of prison for treatment.
Death and violence at HMP Nottingham
- Between 2013 and 2018 at least three prisoners died each year, peaking at seven in 2017, according to government figures
- The number of assaults on staff between March 2018 and February 2019 was 244, an increase from 194 for the previous 12 months
- The number of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults for the same period was 341, up from 246
- In July 2018, inmate Ferencz-Rudolf Pusok, 28, was charged with murder following the death of fellow prisoner, 43-year-old Brett Lowe
- Robert Frejus, 29, was pronounced dead at the prison on 9 October after being found in his cell
- Wyndham Thomas, 41, died on 6 November after being found hanging by a ligature in a shower block
- George McCallum, 79, died a day later
- Ben Ireson, 31, died on 13 December
However, the IMB said it had started to see a number of improvements.
It said more staff had been brought in and inspectors said those staff were becoming more trained and experienced.
Drugs had become more difficult to smuggle in or get hold of, it added.
Measures, such as more open common areas, seemed to have started to reduce violence levels since the completion of the report, the board said.
All of this was “improving prisoners’ daily lives”, according to the IMB’s chairwoman Janet White.
A spokesman for the MoJ said it was pleased the efforts to tackle violence and drug use were starting to show results, and it was working to improve mental health access.
He said: “There is more to do and we are determined to see these improvements continue.”