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’ (the ‘safest’ prison any had been in), with good staff-prisoner relations (‘most really want to help’) and lots of peer mentors & support workers (in noticeable T-shirts) well-embedded into the regime and supported by management. They praised veterans, older prisoners, travellers & LGBT+ support (‘great’ PID workers were a ‘real help’) and very good VR reps (‘Buddies’) who mediate with reps from other wings (and so reduce on wing targeting). Reception and induction were ‘excellent’ as was prisoner involvement (e.g. new prisoners met by reps, and in induction they meet reps from across the jail). They rated the library, two ‘great’ gyms (and staff), ‘excellent’ healthcare, ‘very good’ education and its ‘great’ staff (especially support for special needs, and distance learning, including 40 prisoners doing OU), and a wide range of workshops linked to vocational training. They liked visits (2+ hours standard, 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 called staff camaraderie ‘fabulous’, very friendly, and mutually supportive (‘better than anywhere else’ said some), with POELTs made very welcome and who also have two ‘excellent’ mentors. The staff ‘bistro’ was praised (especially morning ‘bacon butties’!) as were the ‘beautiful’ grounds which benefit 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 and its staff (and its access for staff).
The managers also picked up on good staff-prisoner relations and on staff relations between all levels (‘a real community feel’), and reiterated the praise for the grounds, mentors, minority group support (especially the elderly), education, reception & induction, staff recognition (prisoners can ‘and do’ nominate), visits, and ‘bistro’. They praised the Enabling Environment (EE) wing (now rolling out).