Still in Lancashire, I head down to Preston, where the prison is located the heart of this ‘new’ City (it became England’s 50th city to mark 50 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s Reign in 2002).
There’s been a prison here since 1790, but it was completely rebuilt in Victorian times. The main entrance is architecturally very handsome, but what impressed me the most on arriving was that I make the (current) fastest entry to a prison on record!
The Dep said ‘Proud Preston’ was ‘safe’ with good staff-prisoner relations, and added Keywork ‘made a big difference’. Prisoner consultation was called ‘extensive and important’ (e.g. meetings with functional heads monthly, and quarterly with the No. 1), as was staff consultation & communications (e.g. monthly ‘Governor & Deputy’ forums and full staff meetings quarterly).
The officers had ‘real pride’ in a ‘safe’ prison with good relations throughout and ‘good control and discipline’ that managed difficult prisoners ‘especially well’. They said photocopying mail and personal clothing restrictions kept drug levels (especially NPS) low, and rated support for prisoners at risk of self-harm and veterans.
The prisoners called Preston ‘very safe’, ‘well run’ by ‘lots’ of ‘very good’ staff, with ‘excellent’ security and intelligence. Staff were ‘on top of things’ in an ‘officer run jail’, and relations were good with staff who were ‘straight with you’. They called Keywork ‘great’ (‘everyone thinks so’). They said consultation was strong, and praised Listeners and PIDS as ‘very good’ and ‘well used’. They said the drug recovery unit (‘rare’ in Cat B locals, they said) was good.
The CMs agreed it was a ‘safe’ jail run by ‘firm but fair’ staff ‘who do care’ (and also ‘looked after each other’) but were ‘in charge’. They said staff-prisoner relations were good overall, but, if required, they were confident in using force. They added that detached duty staff ‘love it here’.