It’s the first day of the month, and my third day out visiting prisons this week. It’s also the first of fourteen visits planned for the next three weeks.
It’s my first time at Chelmsford, which has a couple of interesting claims to fame. It’s hosted two well-known footballers, most of a film version of Porridge was shot here, and The Sex Pistols, no less, recorded Live at Chelmsford Top Security Prison here in 1976!
SOs & CMs said the resilience of the staff team had ‘shone through’, and praised the staff group for being cohesive and mutually supportive. They also praised staffs’ skills at de-escalating challenging situations. Staff-prisoner relationships were described as ‘good’. They also described a good working relationship with the local CRC, who were praised for ensuring sentence plans were on time. The Dep also commended staff-prisoner relationships, and noted the good facilities inc. the gym, football pitch, and workshops. There were positive words, too, for the fact that staff ‘wanted to learn’, and for Chelmsford’s ‘welcoming’ reception, and the ‘good first impression’ it gave.
The Officers and OSGs also noted the cohesiveness of staff. They praised SOs & CMs as ‘approachable’ and ‘supportive, and for their role in ‘bringing the team together’. They felt that the commitment and flexibility of managers and staff had helped maintain a regime in challenging times. They said staff-prisoner relations were ‘good’ and said staff were ‘very approachable’. They praised the keywork scheme which was being introduced and felt it had helped improve relationships and safety.
The prisoners described a strong sense of safety in the jail, and said that violence levels were ‘quite low’ when compared to other jails. They highlighted staff-prisoner relationships as ‘good’, and said staff were ‘helpful’. They valued the range of mentors and peer support workers, including Listeners, and the wing rep scheme which they felt was well supported by staff and management. They had high praise for the ‘great’ gym and sporting facilities, inc. the football field. They were also positive about in-cell phones, as well as the personal development courses, and the courses tailored to short-term prisoners’ needs – and they too felt keywork was having a significant positive impact.