After a second night in Liverpool, last but by no means least, in my mini tour of north west prisons, comes Hindley.
Three things struck me in particular from my discussions with staff, prisoners and senior managers. All agreed relationships between staff and prisoners in the jail were excellent; staff were notably positive about the prison’s management and the support they receive from them and the staff care team; and perhaps most striking, was the level of prisoners’ praise for the Officers, who they described as the best they had come across.
Then it’s back down to London. But I’ll be up this way again shortly, to see visit the other prisons in the area – and if the ones I’ve seen so far are anything to go by, I’m looking forward to it!
Prisoners were especially positive about the Officers (‘the best we’ve come across’) and relationships between staff and prisoners. They praised support for family relationships, including regular family days and 90 minute visits as standard. They singled out the ‘preparation for life’ education and pre-release course as excellent, and a construction training course run by a local house building company. They also rated access to the gym and the gym staff, and felt that the prisoner consultation scheme, while new, was a real positive and was having a meaningful impact.
Staff rated the prison as a safe place to work and, like the prisoners, rated relationships between the two very positively. They also saw the family days and extended visit times as positives. They appreciated the visible management of the Governor, and the approach to staff consultation and communications, and welcomed the staff recognition scheme. They praised the staff care team and the level of support for staff from management, and valued the staff mess (and Friday morning ‘fry-up’!). Staff also felt that the extended period of shadowing and mentoring for new staff was a real benefit, aiding both performance and retention.
Like the prisoners, senior managers praised the skills and approach of staff, and their relationships with prisoners. They also highlighted staff resilience – after a difficult period for the establishment – and their support for one another. They felt that relationships between management and staff were also good and highlighted the level of staff consultation. They were particularly positive about the leadership provided by the Governor, citing (among other things) his support for managers and staff, as well as his ‘visibility’, ‘calmness’, and ‘openness’. They also praised the Chaplaincy, including the support for families it provides, and rated family work in general as a positive.