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 staff numbers had increased. They praised the wide range of peer mentors, and the PID workers, VR reps 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 also valued regular extended visits, as well as occasional evening visits, which helped maintain family ties.
The staff group said relations among staff were good and noted a diverse workforce reflecting 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, by more experienced staff, and said it helped with relationships as well as building skills and confidence. The described the jail as ‘safer now’, with less drugs, and praised suicide prevention. 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 instead of taxis for escorts had saved both time and money.
Managers felt familiarisation visits for potential applicants, as well as two dedicated mentors, a buddies scheme, ‘practice support’ provided by HR, an extra training week, and ‘use of authority’ sessions for POELTs had contributed to high retention and helped develop new staff’s jailcraft. They praised family support, inc. 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 helped prisoners get their CSCS card and supported them in finding work on release.