It was off to Long Lartin today, a prison I hadn’t visited before. I decided to get a train to nearby Honeybourne station and walk from there, which might have been a good idea except it’s rather further than it looks on the map, there are no pavements, it was unseasonably cold and started to rain half way along, and I’d forgotten my umbrella.
The prisoners positively rated relations with staff, which were based on first-name terms, and particularly praised the Governor who, they said, ‘really cares’, was committed to developing the jail’s rehabilitative culture, and was ‘visible’, ‘approachable’, and ‘willing to listen to both prisoners and staff’. They rated the prison council, and wide range of prisoner forums; education was also seen as a positive, with a wide range of courses, ‘excellent’ staff and new IT equipment; and the Chaplaincy were singled out too. [The prisoners may have identified other positives had there been time, but a timetabling error curtailed discussion.]
Managers agreed about staff-prisoner relations, and rated prisoner engagement & consultation too. They also noted good relations among staff praised for their enthusiasm & ‘can do’ attitude, described the prison as calm, and said ‘itemiser’ testing all mail, together with self-policing by prisoners, kept Spice levels low. Gym facilities, and equipment on the wings & in exercise yards, wing self-catering facilities, and two ‘pat’ dogs, were highlighted too. They said improvements to living conditions, including ‘less institutional’ colour scheme, images on walls, curtains, fish tanks and planters, were well received by prisoners & staff, and improved prisoners’ behaviour and care for their surroundings. Staff recognition, including nominations from prisoners, a staff mess open at breakfast, and CM-led detailing were noted too, while appointing a full-time POELT mentor had aided staff retention.
The Officers said staff worked hard to build good relations with prisoners, and noted strong relations among staff too. Retaining a full-time POELT mentor was a positive, and CM-led detailing ensured a good mix of experience. The new No. 1 was ‘visible & approachable’, ‘listens’ and ‘wants to improve things’, and they valued a recent staff consultation forum and plans to launch a staff council. Well-being days run by the gym for staff and prisoners were rated too.