After a morning at HMP Liverpool, it was off by taxi to nearby Altcourse. After another warm Liverpudlian welcome from staff on the gate, it was off to meet a group of staff, then a group of prisoners, and finally members of the prison’s senior management team.
As at their public sector cousin’s down the road, prisoners and staff both reported good relationships between them. Other positives noted by all included: support for families, including a specialist family interventions unit; education & training opportunities; mental health and substance misuse services; and a specialist reintegration unit for prisoners on basic. After a long day, it was back to the hotel, to prepare for the next day’s visit to Hindley.
Staff rated relationships with prisoners as excellent and characterised by ‘mutual respect’. They highlighted the specialist family interventions unit and support for family ties, including family days, extended visit length, Storybook Dads, and in-cell phones. They rated the education and training opportunities for prisoners, mental health provision and substance misuse services as positives. They also highlighted the specialist unit aimed at reintegrating prisoners on basic regime, and the on-wing kiosk system which benefited both prisoners and staff. They valued the weekly team meetings and monthly training afternoon for staff, and felt that a period of shadowing for new staff helped them settle in to their roles. They also appreciated the employee of the month staff recognition scheme.
The prisoners described the prison as ‘safe’ and praised staff-prisoner relationships. Like staff, they highly rated the family interventions unit and support for families. The prisoner-led radio station, which helps keep prisoners informed and entertained, was also praised, as were the ‘extensive’ peer support and mentoring programmes, and approach to prisoner consultation. They too highlighted the education and training opportunities in the prison and substance misuse services, as well as the mental health provision, including the use of birds of prey and dogs, and the specialist unit for prisoners on basic.
Senior managers rated many of the same things as both front line staff and prisoners, including: staff-prisoner relationships; prisoner engagement and consultation; education and training opportunities; the family interventions unit and support for families; substance misuse services, mental health provision and unit for those on ‘basic’. They also highlighted safety, staff recognition, and staff training and development as positives.