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 said staff were good at de-escalating. Staff-prisoner relationships were described as good. They also felt there was a good working relationship with the Community Rehabilitation Company, who were praised for ensuring sentence plans were on time.
The Officers and OSGs agreed that staff showed support for one another, and described staff as ‘very approachable’. The management team was also felt to be approachable, and the group pointed out that SOs and CMs helped to pull the team together. They added that they were ‘very keen’ to maintain the regime – and reported a high level of commitment to it. They also praised the Key Worker scheme.
The prisoners described a strong sense of safety in the jail, and said that violence levels were quite low. They highlighted staff-prisoner relationships and said staff were helpful. They also felt there were good levels of management consultation and communication. They valued their mentors, who they believed were trusted by officers, as well as both the wing reps and the Listeners scheme. They had high praise for the ‘great’ gym and sporting facilities, including 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.
The Dep also commended staff-prisoner relationships, and noted the good facilities including 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.