I’m becoming a bit of a regular at Bullingdon as this was actually my second visit of the year and my fourth in total – we were last here in February to film the Butler Trust’s 2017 Princess Royal’s Prize winner, Bernadette Hare, and before that I accompanied The Princess herself on a visit back in 2009.
We started off in the Governor’s office (the boardroom was out of action because of a flood!) with the Governor and his SMT, then on to meet a group of prisoners, followed by members of staff.
Each of the groups identified a number of positives for prisoners, including: staff-prisoner relationships; training and employment opportunities; and support for prisoner-family engagement. But staff also praised the Governor’s visible management style and support for staff, as well as the prison’s staff recognition scheme.
After our morning at Bullingdon, it was straight off down the road for an afternoon at Grendon.
The Governor and members of his senior team emphasised prisoner engagement, and an extensive range of prisoner representation schemes, as a key positive. They also highlighted the range of vocational training opportunities, and links with outside employers, which had recently been greatly expanded. Another area highlighted was extended family visits and the opportunity for family members to celebrate prisoners’ achievements. The Governor also highlighted staff recognition and events for staff friends and families as positives, and underlined the importance of visible management and support for staff.
Prisoners praised the violence-reduction rep system and ‘well-supported’ Listeners, as well as the quality and range of vocational training opportunities, and the gym facilities and training offered there. The ‘honest conversation’ underlying staff-prisoner communications was rated positively, as was staff commitment to ‘help [and] nurture you’. Prisoner achievement awards and ‘Family Celebrations’ were highlighted. The accessibility and responsiveness of prison management were also praised.
Front line staff praised the Governor’s visible management style, and appreciated his support for staff, including visiting any staff member who has been assaulted. Staff recognition, both individually and as teams, was described as excellent and the ‘shoutout’ boards, where messages of thanks and praise for staff from colleagues and prisoners are displayed, were highly appreciated. Officers agreed that staff were strongly supportive of one another, including offering a ‘listening ear’ in difficult times, whether on duty or outside of work. Staff also noted the quality and range of training opportunities for prisoners, and relationships between prisoners and staff were described as positive and constructive.