I’m still in deepest Devon, and from Dartmoor it’s less than an hour’s drive, past the ponies, to reach Channings Wood, hidden among tiny villages on the outskirts of Newton Abbot (and a short hop from Torquay, whose Gleneagles Hotel inspired Fawlty Towers).
Originally a camp and shooting range built by the United States as part of the preparations for the 1944 invasion of Europe, it opened as a prison in 1974.
The prisoners praised education, relevant vocational training, and local employer links and job fairs, and they also valued prisoners helping to train peers. They liked two-hour visits ‘as standard’ and all-day family visits. They said the gym worked very well, and liked the range of courses and circuits for different fitness levels, as well as the Park Run, football competitions, and the prisoner & staff triathlon charity event. They also rated the strong focus on equality and diversity, and said staff were very supportive of members of minority groups.
The officers said staff were very supportive of each another, and praised the ‘great’ SMs, Residential Governors, and very visible and approachable No. 1, especially their supportiveness and ‘giving thanks where due’. The daily full staff briefing was ‘extremely valuable’. They were proud of their successful record in pioneering or piloting new policies. They, too, praised education, training, and the useful external links. They said prisoner progression pathways, from induction to resettlement (and with decent ROTL opportunities) were good, too.
The managers called staff-staff relations ‘very good’, and again noted staff’s mutual support. They agreed with officers on the highly visible governor, the morning briefings, managers ‘saying thanks’, and on their pride as pioneers. They echoed prisoners on education & training, job fairs & employer links, and on ‘two hours as standard’ family visits. They said partner agency links were ‘great’, and liked ‘prisoner & family’ celebrations of events (e.g. a course graduation). They said amnesties for weapons, drugs and phones had worked ‘very well’, although they noted that they required a lot of planning.