Another early start in November and, fortunately, another sunny day, too. This time I’m heading towards the ‘lost village’ of Onley in Northamptonshire, first mentioned in 1272. Now it’s just a few scattered farms (and some of the most important remains of earthworks of their kind in the country).
Also fortunately, it’s pretty easy to find for a lost village, given that HMP Onley, as well as HMP Rye Hill, Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, and a large marina, are now on the site of this ‘deserted village’.
The Managers described a safe jail with good staff-prisoner relationships, ‘excellent’ staff camaraderie in ‘a real family atmosphere’, and a visible and supportive Governor (CMs called the SMT ‘very approachable’). They rated the daily full staff briefings, and the monthly full staff meetings, training shut downs, staff newsletters, and consultation meetings with officers, as well as the regular ‘lunch with the Gov’ meetings. They valued the staff recognition scheme (with presentations at the monthly staff meetings) and the staff mess, and weekly Prisoner Council (who meet monthly with the No. 1 & senior managers) and ‘very active’ wing forums and the monthly prisoner newsletter. They thought prisoner vocational training and local employer links good, and local CRC links, dedicated resettlement wing, and resettlement facilities ‘excellent’ (including high levels of accommodation and employment on release). A ‘Change Request’ scheme where prisoners & staff share ideas for improvement was ‘very popular’ and ‘effective’.
The prisoners thought the staff ‘very good’ (‘many go the extra mile’) and staff-prisoner relations good, too, with staff praising and encouraging those trying to change. They also rated prisoner consultation including the CMs monthly wing forums and Prisoner Council meetings. Reception and its staff were ‘excellent’ and ‘welcoming’ (‘sets the tone of the jail’) and gym staff ‘amazing’ and ‘very supportive’ of prisoners, including those who would not be natural gym goers. Family visits were good: the Inside Out charity doing ‘an excellent job’ on visits.
The officers called the jail ‘safe’ compared to similar ones, relations with prisoner ‘good’, and between staff ‘especially good’ (e.g. ‘lots of socials’) with new staff made ‘very welcome’. They rated a daily briefing sheet, staff briefings, meetings, training, and recognition, the mess (and rest rooms and wing cooking facilities), local employer/training links and the culture of ‘thank yous’ for jobs well done.