When I was working at Holloway, there were many occasions when I would walk past Pentonville, one of the most legendary prisons on the estate, but I had never actually been inside.
I was keen to see this, the first ‘modern’ London prison, built back in 1842. Although it’s hosted the famous and infamous alike, from Oscar Wilde and John Christie to George Best and George Michael, ‘the Ville’ is now a local.
The No. 1 highlighted the strong identity and pride in Pentonville among staff, and said there was ‘a lot’ of staff recognition, and celebration events, like national days, Eid and Pentonville’s 175th. The Governor praised the visible management, especially on the centre at free flow, the staff mess (‘a real positive’), and staff family open days. Other positives included ‘decency, respect, and cleanliness’ including a Governor-led weekly cleaning competition, staff-staff and staff-prisoner relations, and the Prisoner council and PIDs workers.
The staff expressed pride in the prison and highlighted regular celebration days as a positive. They said there was good visible management – ‘especially the Governor’. They felt staff supported each another, and highlighted their jailcraft skills, and dedication – which they said staff visiting on detached duty often remarked upon.
The SOs and CMs again highlighted staff recognition and staff family open days. The managers also highlighted staff attitudes to prisoners and the broad range of prisoner mentors and their links to staff. They also noted an emphasis on safer custody, and said including engaging families in reviews had led to a reduction in self harm and violence. They praised the Chaplaincy for being ‘at the heart of the prison’ and being particularly good with vulnerable prisoners. They also valued the strong collaborative relationships with police and other outside agencies.