After Bedford, I found my way back to the car park and jumped in to drive the twenty miles up the A1 to Littlehey for my second visit of the day.
Apparently there was once a borstal here – way back in 1945 – but it’s long since been demolished, and the prison is now a modern-looking redbrick affair.
The prisoners felt ‘very safe’, with good staff-prisoner relations and staff ‘who really want to help’. They noted a wide range of peer mentors & support workers (in noticeable T-shirts), who were ‘well-embedded’ into the regime and supported by management, highlighting in particular PID workers and VR reps (‘Buddies’) who mediate on wings other than their own (to avoid being targeted on their own wings), and praised support for minority groups. Reception & induction were ‘excellent’, again supported by prisoners. They also rated the library, education – with support for special needs, distance learning, and ‘great’ teaching staff highlighted – plus workshops linked to vocational training. Two ‘great’ gyms and staff, and ‘excellent’ healthcare were other positives, as were visits (2+ hours, family days, a VICS day) and the ‘great’ staff who managed them (‘you couldn’t ask for more’), as well as green and ‘airy’ grounds – and the food.
The Officers said staff relationships were ‘fabulous’ and mutually supportive (‘better than anywhere else’). POELTs were made very welcome and had two ‘excellent’ full-time mentors. The staff ‘bistro’ was praised (esp. morning ‘bacon butties’!), as were the ‘beautiful’ grounds which benefited all. They thought staff-prisoner relations were ‘good’ and also picked out the mentors and reps (detailed above) as ‘a great help’ to staff, and again praised reception and induction, as well as the gym, including for staff. The staff recognition scheme (with prisoners also making nominations) was another positive.
The managers also picked up on staff-prisoner relations and relations between staff at all levels, creating ‘a real community feel’. They too valued the range of mentors and reps, minority group support (esp. for older prisoners), education, reception & induction, visits, and the grounds, as well as staff recognition and the ‘bistro’. The new Enabling Environment wing was another positive.