HMP Forest Bank: Director stands down following improvement notice


The boss of a troubled privately-run prison has stood down after the facility was handed a 45-day improvement notice.

HMP Forest Bank in Salford, Greater Manchester, was issued with the order last month, the Manchester Evening News reported.

A 2019 inspection reported hundreds of violent “prisoner-on-prisoner” attacks.

Director Matt Spencer, who has led the facility since 2015, is to “pursue new opportunities”, operator Sodexo said.

A visit by HM Inspectorate of Prisons two years ago found a third of Forest Bank inmates felt unsafe.

Violence had more than doubled since 2016 with 400 acts of violence reported in the previous six months, said inspectors.

They also found 60% of inmates were sharing single-occupancy cells and many officers were “very inexperienced”.

And between 2016 and 2019, HMP Forest Bank had the highest number of drug seizures of any prison in England and Wales.

In July, a man who was caught throwing drugs worth thousands of pounds over the prison wall has been jailed for two years.

Greater Manchester Police released CCTV of five people wearing balaclavas also throwing packages into the grounds of the Salford jail.

HMP Forest Bank, run by Sodexo Justice Services, opened in 2000 and was contracted to provide 800 places as a Category B Local prison for adult males.

It currently houses 1,460 inmates.

Mr Spencer joined the company in 2013 after working in the prison service for 26 years before being appointed director in 2015.

The current director of HMP Bronzefield in Middlesex, Ian Whiteside, will take over the role, said a spokesman.

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Olivia Wilson
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