It was back up to the North West again today, for a two day mini-tour of three establishments, starting with Garth, in Leyland, Lancashire. My family are from this neck of the woods, and my son studied at Preston, where my train journey ended, so in some ways it was like coming home – and I received a friendly Lancastrian welcome when I finally arrived.
Managers noted strong relationships between staff & prisoners and among staff across disciplines, and praised the commitment and caring approach of staff. They felt keywork, a multi-disciplinary, individualised approach to drug use, self-harm, complex needs & challenging behaviours, and the introduction of two supernumerary SOs to support and advise staff, had had significant impacts. The Prison Council and wide range of Level 2 qualified peer mentors, including trained mediators, were highlighted, as were equalities, education, and specialist units including EE-accredited PD unit, Drug TC, ‘Building hope’ unit for long-tariff lifers, and residential support unit for more vulnerable prisoners. Staff support and recognition (twice yearly formal awards & ‘instant recognition’), weekly bulletin (including ‘thank you’s & staff news), ‘breakfast with the Governor’, staff-family events, and personalised Xmas cards from the No. 1 were positives too.
The Officers highlighted good relationships between staff and prisoners, and among Officers across the establishment – they appreciated low levels of cross deployment of staff and felt that played a significant role in this. As with the managers, they saw education and the range of specialist units for prisoners as key positives. They also valued the staff mess, which was well used.
The prisoners highlighted the role of the Prison Council, which they felt was well supported and effective, and valued the wide range of peer mentors and the support they received, singling out PID workers in particular. They noted significant recent improvements in progression opportunities for prisoners, and in drug use, security and safety across the jail, and valued the introduction of enhanced cooking facilities on the wings – much of this was attributed to the Governor, who they felt provided strong leadership, was approachable and responsive, and was committed to promoting a strong rehabilitative culture.