It’s a two-prison swing into the Midlands today, so it made sense to stay overnight last night so I could be at the gate of Dovegate prison for 9am sharp.
Last night’s hotel reminded me that I really don’t like staying in hotels much, so it was a great relief to be out of there and back on the road.
Dovegate, just outside Uttoxeter, is a modern prison run by Serco, which opened in 2001 and was expanded in 2009.
The prisoners said this ‘good jail’ and predictable regime was the ‘safest’ any had been to. They praised peers & mentors including peer-led induction, a ‘first timers’ support network, ‘very effective’ VR reps (who formally mediate), healthcare champions, the PAL, ‘excellent’ healthcare support, and Listeners for those with self-harm & mental health issues. Phones & kiosks were highly valued, food was ‘good’ and visits ‘brilliant’ (e.g. monthly family visits, hot food, chance to play with their children in open air). They rated consultation e.g. wing reps (weekly), senior manager (monthly), and No. 1 (quarterly) meetings.
The officers said prisoner relations were ‘good’ and ‘informal’ (e.g. first names used), rated the ‘highly visible’ Director’s ‘open door policy’, and praised a strong culture giving credit where due, managers regularly thanking staff for jobs well done, and the weekly newsletter’s ‘thank yous’ to teams and individuals. They liked communications & consultation including a monthly full staff briefing, and staff invited to a consultation breakfast with the Director in their birthday month. Staff recognition (e.g. Employee/Team of the month, certificates of achievement) ‘show you’re appreciated’. They rated the staff parties held twice a year and the annual staff family fun day where friends and family can tour the jail.
The managers highlighted a safe prison in ‘a culture of respect’ to prisoners, an ‘open’, visible and supportive No.1 (‘it’s OK to make a mistake’), and staff’s morale, ‘can do attitude’, strong camaraderie & teamwork. They also rated staff communications, consultation, recognition, family days and social events, and especially liked ‘family friendly’ shift patterns. Induction, VR reps, healthcare champions, family support (including family reps on wings & Storybook Dads), and phones & kiosks were again rated , as was the ‘excellent’ resettlement work by the CRC, the ‘fantastic’ Recycling Lives charity, and the highly praised TC.