Brixton prison was founded in 1820 as the Surrey House of Correction and has had some impressive ‘guests’ over the years, including Mick Jagger, Bertrand Russell, and the Kray Twins.
But for those of us who know it personally, it’s famous for something else: it’s always a lot further up the hill than you remember!
The prisoners said staff-prisoner relationships were good, and thought that safety and drugs issues were ‘much better’ since the staff increases (Brixton is now fully staffed). They praised the wide range of peer mentors, and the PIDs, VR and family pathways reps in particular got an ‘excellent’ rating. They called the Prisoner council ‘helpful’ and liked the weekly ‘surgery’ with residential governors. They described visits as ‘decent’ and pointed approvingly to regular extended visits as well as some evening visits.
The staff group said staff-staff relations were good and noted that the camaraderie and diverse workforce reflected the wider population. The Staff Care team was rated as ‘very good’, as were staff wellbeing days. They liked the ongoing post-graduation training in the use of authority for newer staff, being given by more experienced staff, and said it helped with relationships as well as building skills and confidence. Calling the jail ‘safer now’, and with less drugs, they said ACCTs and suicide prevention were ‘very good here’. They called staff-prisoner relations ‘humane’, and praised the peer mentors, with the PIDS, VR and Induction reps in particular getting a thumbs up. They highlighted how using the prison’s own transportation (a van and a car) instead of taxis had saved both time and money.
Senior managers said they were now fully staffed with good staff retention. They thought pre-joining familiarisation visits, two dedicated mentors, a buddies scheme, ‘practice support’ from HR, an extra training week, and the use of ‘authority’ sessions all helped as well as staff reflecting local diversity. They praised visits including homework clubs, family days and extended visits, a private room for fathers with young children, and Storybook Dads. They had positive words, too, for the Prisoner Council and the Bounce Back charity who help prisoners get their Construction Skills Certification Scheme card and supporting them in finding work on release.