My last stop in Devon on this visit is Exeter, which I rush down to from Channings Wood. Although the current prison is Victorian, the ‘County Gaol’ has a history dating back to Henry I (1100-1135).
I was last here on a Butler Trust visit, with our Royal Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, which is, admittedly, always a slightly different way of visiting a prison!
The prisoners said most staff were ‘very good’, many ‘brilliant’, and the gym staff ‘fantastic’. In-cell phones ‘transformed things’, helped family relations and reduced wing phone arguments. They liked standard two-hour visits and full day child-centred visits. The Apps Rep (logging apps & connecting people) was ‘very helpful’. They valued ‘buddies’ support for those with health & social care needs, and the Zero Tolerance Rep helping difficult prisoners on the Time Wise course.
The staff noted ‘excellent team work’ in a fully staffed jail (with safety ‘much improved’), where new staff were welcomed and supported. The SMT won high praise as ‘hardworking’, ‘effective’, very visible, supportive, and for giving thanks where due (‘a simple thing which means a lot’). SOs were similarly valued for supportiveness and regularly giving praise. The morning full staff briefing was ‘excellent’, and ‘effective’ annual team-building days highly valued, as was the ‘employee of the month’. They also rated the ‘excellent’ ‘rapid response’ to incidents, and the ‘very good’ keyworker scheme – ‘especially’ for long termers.
Managers (including Deputy Governor)
Senior managers added their agreement about gym staff, ‘fantastic’ keywork (‘keeps getting better’), buddy & (award-winning) staff complex needs support, and the Zero Tolerance / Time Wise course. They added that their VR and prison crime strategies, with good local CPS & other links, meant they led nationally on its prosecution. They also praised the palliative care suite and its end-of-life family support, open days for staff members’ families, and staff & orderly-led gym for local children with learning disabilities (‘transformative’ for all). They highlighted ‘excellent’ charity and agency support for prisoners’ needs, and noted partnerships with Shannon Trust/Toe-by-Toe.