After Cardiff, it was straight onto Parc in Bridgend, about half way to Wales’ next largest city, Swansea. A bright and open establishment, its gardens and green areas were shown off to particularly fine effect in the good weather.
This was the third time I’d visited the prison – the last time was with HRH The Princess Royal – and each time both staff and prisoners have been keen to sing the establishment’s praises.
The prisoners felt Parc was safe and called staff-prisoner relations ‘excellent’. They praised the jail’s support for families, and said in-cell phones, family days and evening visits, as well as a ‘family wing’ with a parenting programme, were all helpful here. They liked the kiosks on the wings, and praised time out of the cell and association opportunities. They called the range of offending behaviour programmes and educational & training opportunities ‘very good’, and gave the 7-day gym and gym staff an ‘excellent’ rating. They also highlighted support for older prisoners and veterans – and added that the food was ‘very good’ too.
Agreeing that the jail felt safe, the staff also thought staff-prisoner relations were ‘excellent’, and added that staff were supportive of each other. They said they felt valued and supported by managers at all levels, and praised the managers’ visibility, as well as the staff recognition scheme. They also highlighted a 9-month mentoring period for new staff during probation. They rated prisoner consultation & engagement, and noted in particular support for older prisoners and veterans, education & training, and family support – and again noted the benefits of in-cell phones and kiosks. They additionally picked out support for prisoners with learning disabilities (LD) and mental health issues, the drugs wing and a specialist re-engagement wing for non-compliant prisoners.
The managers and Director described ‘a positive and calm culture’. They agreed on all of the other groups’ points, and additionally pointed to a wider emphasis on decency and well-being that included excellent grounds and gardens, a ‘trauma informed’ workforce, and mindfulness training for both staff and prisoners. They especially praised screening, and the support provided by both staff and peers, for those with complex needs, inc..trans prisoners and those with learning disabilities.