Off to Huntercombe today to present Butler Trust Certificates, so we took the opportunity to continue work on the ‘good book’ in the process.
We met the Governor first, then on to meet a group of prisoners before the presentations at a full staff meeting. After that, it was off to talk first to senior managers, then to front line staff, fitting in a quick bite to eat and judging the prison’s Christmas jumper design competition in between!
What particularly struck us on our visit was the positivity of everyone we spoke to, the mutual respect between and within all three groups (prisoners, management and staff), and their shared commitment to working together to make a real difference. Thanks to all for making us feel so welcome and helping us end the year on a real high.
Prisoners were notably fulsome in their praise for Huntercombe, and especially the staff. They highlighted a culture of respect throughout and positive and supportive relationships between prisoners and staff, and among prisoners themselves. The prisoner consultation scheme, peer support and prisoner-led advice and guidance were all rated. Time out of cell and the range of activities and courses on offer were also praised, with education and the gym singled out in particular.
Like the prisoners, staff highlighted the culture of respect throughout and positive relationships with prisoners. They also rated the range and quality of activities, in particular education and the gym, as well as time out of cell. Staff felt the prison’s past in dealing with juveniles benefited their skills and approach to the management of prisoners, and noted that host governors have praised Huntercombe staff on detached duty in this regard. Officers praised the visible management style, and open-door policy, of the Governor and senior managers, as well as staff recognition, and noted supportive relationships among staff.
The Governor and his colleagues rated many of the same things as both front-line staff and prisoners. They highlighted in particular the prison culture and relationships, as well as the jailcraft of staff, especially their de-escalation skills. They also noted the prisoner consultation scheme, and the involvement of prisoners in peer support, and advice and guidance, as well as the help they give to staff in their roles. They rated time out of cell, and the education, training and work opportunities for prisoners, and noted the ‘excellent’ support provided by partner agencies. They also highlighted the importance of staff recognition and support, which had recently been expanded, as well as the visibility of managers at all levels.