Another early start, this time from London to get to Leeds for the visit. But there’s always the compensation of passing through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.
The county would have come 12th in the Olympic medals table at London 2012 if it were a country! And while Leeds Prison in Armley, built in 1847, is a rather imposing building, the cheery welcome I received was much appreciated.
Managers (including Deputy Governor)
The senior managers said the jail was safe and had a positive overall culture. They felt the SMT worked as a ‘cohesive’ group which delivered both leadership and a visible management approach – from the Governor down. In terms of new staff, they praised the work of their two dedicated mentors as well as the additional fortnight of ‘jailcraft’ training and ‘shadowing’ back at Leeds. They rated staff-prisoner relationships, and added positive remarks about the staff/prisoner team responsible for damage repairs nicknamed – from 007! – ‘Q’ division. They valued the difference made by photocopying all post (sometimes impregnated with the drug Spice), and said it had reduced violence ‘as a matter of course’. They also had good things to say about the jail’s partnership work with the probation service. They also added praise for the PIDS [Prisoner Information Desk Services] involving prisoner mentors and support workers.
The officers particularly praised the ‘team work’ in the prison and said that staff were supportive of each other. They, too, felt there was good support for new staff, and again mentioned the additional jailcraft training and shadowing as examples. They also rated the good visible management. They said in-cell phones had made ‘a huge difference’ to prisoner behaviour, and had also contributed to far fewer mobiles in the prison. They also had good words to say about making photocopying all post a ‘standard procedure’.
The prisoners also had positive things to say about staff-prisoner relationships, and picked out for particular praise the new cohort of officers coming in, who they described as ‘very good’. They valued the levels of both prisoner consultation and communication, and said they were impressed that the regular meetings of the consultation committee were both properly minuted – and, as a result, then followed up with action.