It’s taken until the third week of November, but this visit is on a cold and grey day, and it definitely feels like winter is setting in.
It’s a big prison – its capacity has expanded over the years to over a thousand – and is located, like several others in the estate, on the site of a former World War II army installation.
Senior Managers noted good staff-prisoner relations (including joint events like quiz & curry nights and fundraising), a strong decency focus (aided by a full-time works party) and thought safety & drugs were ‘markedly improved’. They cited keywork, a restorative approach to incidents, and a trained staff & prisoner VR team as major factors, alongside an ‘enabling environment’ wing and ‘basics’ reception shop (to reduce debt). They praised the wide range of prisoner mentors (who can do Level 3/4 NVQs) including for MAPS, education and workshops, an elected Prisoner Council who regularly meet the No.1, and a full-time ‘engagement lead’ manager. They rated the literacy & numeracy work ‘excellent’, and employment too including training (e.g. CSCS card, local employer links, job fairs and workshop contracts conditional on employing prisoners on release). They highly rated the gym (including a personal training NVQ) that trains staff & prisoners, regular family visits (including Basic), Way out TV, and regular No. 1-led staff groups & consultation. They liked the yearly staff & families BBQ and staff family open days, staff recognition, monthly training days, and the No. 1 supporting any assaulted staff.
The prisoners agreed (for the reasons detailed above) about the gym, Prisoner Council, and peer mentors – adding praise for the Listeners, MAPS & VR reps, as well as for sick & elderly support workers and staff & prisoner-rep support & events for minority groups. The staff & prisoner-led induction was also ‘excellent’ (e.g. signposting prisoners to training & work) and the CRC-led resettlement work ‘very good’ (e.g. sorting bank accounts, accommodation, CVs, job interviews).
The officers praised staff morale & relations (including a ‘brilliant’ full-time POELT mentor and extended shadowing & support), and said Spice & safety was ‘much improved’. They also liked the annual BBQ & open days, and praised the free Christmas staff dinner. They thought the ‘enabling environment’ wing ‘fantastic’.