For the second time in the last six months, I was back to the Northwest, this time to present a Butler Trust certificate. (I was previously here helping prepare for a Royal visit by HRH The Princess Royal, The Butler Trust’s Royal Patron).
Although modern (it was built in 1964), and lying just north of the M62 and on the Warrington Road, Risley is still surrounded by fields and some small lakes.
The prisoners had high praise for staff, who they described as ‘very good’, as well as ‘helpful’ and ‘fair’. They said staff-prisoner relationships were a particular positive and compared favourably with other jails. They also described Risley as ‘safe’ compared to other prisons they had been to. They highlighted consultation and communication with prisoners as a strength, and made special mention of the Chaplaincy, which was agreed to be ‘excellent’.
The staff also highlighted good staff-prisoner relationships, which they said were often remarked on by detached duty staff. They felt that the staff were very supportive of each other, as well as of new staff. They, too, thought Risley was safer than other comparable jails, and noted that levels of drug use, including Spice, had reduced significantly in recent months. Staff were also impressed by good levels of communication and consultation on the part of ‘very visible’ managers, from the Governor down, valued the staff recognition scheme and felt ‘valued’ and supported by the Governor.
The Managers agreed that the prison was safer than comparable jails elsewhere, and that drug use and violence were reducing as a result of recent efforts to target both. They said Risley’s staff-prisoner relationships were ‘excellent’ and praised the staff as exceptionally ‘supportive’, ‘friendly’ and ‘dedicated’. They noted their ‘passion for Risley’ and ‘excellent’ jailcraft, and highlighted relationships among staff at all levels and across disciplines (including with those staff employed by outside agencies) as particularly strong. They also praised the ‘very visible’ and ‘approachable’ Governor, who they felt was supportive of both front line staff and managers, and felt that relationships between managers and staff were also good. Like the Officers, they rated staff consultation and communication, and the staff recognition scheme as positives too.