You’re always guaranteed a warm welcome at Full Sutton, and I actually got two of them (having visited the prison twice for the Good Book of Prisons project). I started the whole project off here back in November 2017, but thought I’d visit again in early 2019, having focused primarily on local and Cat C establishments during 2018, as the first of a series of visits to the High Security and Long Term Estate.
Prisoners described staff-prisoner relationships at Full Sutton as good and praised the approach and style of staff. The PEIs were singled out for particular praise, as was the gym, and access to it (5 sessions a week over 7 days). They felt the prison was generally safe and had few problems with Spice. The prison council and other consultation forums were valued, and the wide range of peer mentors was highlighted. The ‘Opt Out’ self-catering scheme (allowing Enhanced prisoners to cater and budget for themselves) was widely praised, along with the cookery class and wing-based cooking facilities. The extended working day and amount of association were also valued, as were (whole-day) family and adult-only visits.
Front line staff cited the ‘Opt Out’ scheme, whole-day family visits, and extended working day as key positives, as well as the gym facilities and access, for both prisoners and staff. They also noted the reliability of the regime and time out of cell. They highlighted the quality of relationships among staff, and the welcome extended to new staff, as well as relations between staff and prisoners, and their colleagues’ jailcraft. Like the prisoners, they felt the prison was generally safe, and they too reported few problems with NPS (like Spice).
Managers described the prison as safe, attributing that to “a bedrock of good jailcraft” and strong relationships between staff and prisoners, which they felt were better than in many other jails. They also highlighted positive relationships among staff – and likewise, between management and staff – with daily wing briefings for staff, weekly email newsletter to staff (which includes ‘thank you’s, and good news stories, as well as other information) and monthly staff council, all seen as contributory factors. Managers also rated the mentoring and support for new staff, provided in part by a full-time SO and OSG, and noted the prison’s high rate of retention for new officers.