Feltham, which was formed from the amalgamation of Ashford Remand Centre and Feltham Borstal in 1990, has two parts. Feltham A caters for under 18s and is one of seven establishments (prisons and secure training centres) in the young people’s estate – but I was here to visit Feltham B, which caters for 18-21 year olds.
Managers felt staff-prisoner relationships were positive and had improved after the introduction of keywork. The prison was especially good at managing challenging prisoners, with Violence Reduction peer mentors, individualised action planning and staff de-escalation skills all playing a role – and it was the first in the world to be ‘autism accredited’. The Chaplaincy (‘at the heart of everything’) was praised, as was the gym and gym staff, and links with outside sports teams. The Duke of Edinburgh scheme and outward-bound courses – involving both staff & prisoners – were highlighted, as was Learning Together (with Royal Holloway Uni) and life skills course run by London Fire Brigade.
The prisoners said the majority of staff were positive and respectful towards prisoners, and did their best to make a difference, and they felt the jail was generally safe (‘if you keep away from trouble’). They rated keywork positively. Healthcare and the mental health & well-being team were praised. They valued the prisoner council, which met regularly with senior managers. The library was another positive. They rated the range of practical courses on offer and outward-bound opportunities, including Duke of Edinburgh. They particularly valued the gym and sporting opportunities, including the links with outside teams. Celebration of achievement events for prisoners were also seen as a positive.
The Officers said that relations between them were particularly strong (and commented on by visiting staff), with strong team work across disciplines and regular social events outside work – and new staff were welcomed and supported by colleagues. They felt safe and said relations with prisoners were good. Staff really cared and listened to prisoners, and the introduction of keywork had been a real positive. Thank you letters to staff from the Governor for a job well done were much appreciated.