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 had ‘made a big difference’ to both relationships and safety. Prisoner consultation, including monthly meetings for prisoner reps with functional heads, and quarterly meetings with the No. 1, was ‘extensive and important’. Staff consultation & communications were a strong focus too – inc. monthly ‘Governor & Dep’ forums and quarterly full staff meetings.
The Officers had ‘real pride’ in Preston and noted strong camaraderie among them. Relations with prisoners were good too. The prison was described as ‘safe’, with ‘good control and discipline’. They said photocopying all mail and restrictions on personal clothing kept drug levels (especially NPS) low. The management of especially difficult / challenging prisoners, and support for those at risk of self-harm were seen as real strengths, as was support for veterans.
The prisoners called Preston ‘very safe’ and ‘well run’. They noted ‘lots of very good’ staff who ‘are straight with you’. They said staff were ‘on top of things’ in an ‘officer run jail’, with strong security and intelligence, while relations with staff were positive too. Keywork was ‘great’ (‘everyone thinks so’), and consultation was strong. The Listeners and PIDS were ‘very good’ and ‘well used’, while the drug recovery unit (‘rare’ in Cat B locals, they said) was a positive too.
The CMs agreed it was a ‘safe’ jail run by ‘firm but fair’ staff ‘who do care’, but were ‘in charge’ and were confident and skilled in the use of force where required. While staff were ‘in charge’, relations with prisoners were good, and keywork had made a real difference. Pride in the jail was strong as were relations between staff, who ‘looked after each other’ and detached duty staff ‘love it here’.