Date of visit: 21 February 2019
Visit number: 82
Prison type: Female
Managers highlighted low violence & self-harm, and staff-prisoner relationships. They rated mental health care, and said it was the first whole prison and public-sector jail to attain Accreditation by the Royal College of Psychiatry for places with “a positive and effective social environment”, “where healthy relationships are seen as the key to success” and ‘Dementia-Friendly’ status, respectively. They noted free-movement from 7am-8pm, and strong prisoner engagement and consultation. They rated education and training, including Cycle workshops providing training and employment opportunities to prisoners www.halfordscompany.com/corporate-responsibility/community/ and others providing employment post-release, and extensive Release On Temporary Licence – the mechanism through which serving prisoners are allowed out of prison on a temporary basis, including for work opportunities. The food was ‘excellent’ with two hot meals a day. Family support and engagement, regular family days and lifer days, quarterly ‘celebration of success’ days to which families were invited, a charity clothes shop and WI group were all seen as positives, as was the annual Xmas party for staff families.
The Officers also highlighted safety and good staff-prisoner relationships, and highly rated self-harm prevention, the mental health team, and counselling provision for the women. Employment training and links with local employers were again a positive. The charity Charity supporting prisoners and their families www.prisonadvice.org.uk and local Community Rehabilitation Company – providing probation services for low and medium risk offenders were singled out for family and housing support. The Chaplaincy’s support for both staff and prisoners was ‘bang on’, and the Governor was seen as highly supportive towards staff.
The women too praised staff-prisoner relationships, the supportive approach of staff and Enabling Environment. They highly valued the ‘open’ regime, and the freedom and responsibility it provided. They also rated a wide range of training & employment opportunities, including interview-training by ‘Smart works’, and highlighted Offender Management Unit – prison-based team responsible for helping to draw up and oversee a prisoner’s sentence plan, and linking with their probation officer outside 7-day ‘drop-in’ service. Support for families (including ‘fantastic’ family days, with staff in ‘civvies’ and plenty of activities, and lifer & long-termer days) were highlighted too. The charity clothes shop, quality of the food, coffee shop (where they can meet friends in their spare time), and greenery and cleanliness of their living environment were also positives.