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 also thought Risley’s staff compared well with other jails. They felt levels of consultation and communication with prisoners were good, and made special mention of the Chaplaincy, which was agreed to be ‘excellent’. They said Risley was ‘reasonably safe’, and generally thought well of it in comparison with other prisons.
The staff were also quick to highlight good staff-prisoner relationships, and their remarks were given additional support, in turn, by the agreement of the detached duty staff in the group. Staff were also impressed by good levels of both communication and consultation by managers, from the Governor down, who they said were ‘very’ visible. In addition, the staff felt both valued by their Governor and by efforts at staff recognition in general. 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 jails, and said that Mandatory Drug Testing had helped bring down the use of Spice, too.
The Managers picked up on the other groups’ remarks, and described a supportive and friendly group of staff with ‘a passion for Risley’, which they thought was unusual and notable in comparison to other jails. They described the Governor as very visible, using words like ‘good’, ‘positive’ and ‘supportive’. They said Risley’s staff-prisoner relationships were ‘excellent’. They also had good words to say about relationships between different staff groups (such as uniformed and non-uniformed, those directly employed, and those working as volunteers or employed by outside agencies, for example). They, too, considered that, in the current circumstances, Risley could be fairly described as a ‘reasonably safe’ jail.