It’s still an unseasonably warm November day, and now my early start pays off because Rye Hill is right next door to my previous visit, HMP Onley. Rye Hill apparently shares a bit of the ‘lost village of Onley’ thing, too, because although Rye Hill is in the parish of Barby in Northamptonshire, its postal address is in Willoughby, Warwickshire.
As if moving around in space isn’t enough, there’s time, too: I’m walking between fifty years of prison history, from Onley’s mid-1960s jail to Rye Hill’s much more modern 2014 one.
The prisoners felt ‘very safe’ in a jail with ‘a sense of community’, and ‘great’ staff who ‘really care’ and make extra effort. They said the SMT was ‘excellent’ and staff & management place ‘real trust’ in prisoners. They liked management’s wide consultation and ‘nothing about me without me’ approach. They said they were mutually ‘very supportive’ (e.g. mental health & behavioural peer support; a range of mentors who regularly meet managers). They liked the strong Prisoner Council and management’s responsiveness to their ideas. Regenerate, an outside charity’s counselling service, was ‘brilliant’, and reception ‘fantastic’: a very relaxed ‘open’ feel set the tone alongside a 3-month peer-led induction. They liked the varied regime’s many chances for personal development, a ‘second to none’ education, and regular prisoner achievement celebrations. They praised visits (‘excellent’ management) including regular family days, homework clubs etc). The gardens and green space made ‘a real difference’, as did phones and kiosks.
The SMs agreed there was ‘a genuine community’ with ‘amazing’ staff who treat all as ‘individuals’ and ‘human beings’, and on a ‘very’ visible, approachable No. 1 & Dep who led a management that consult with and communicate to staff & prisoners on ‘everything’. Keywork was praised, as was managing difficult and challenging prisoners (based on individualised case work and involving families), and the IEP ‘encouraging positives’. They agreed, too, about reception, induction, gardens & green space, prisoner’s success events, and on phones & kiosks.
Officers said staff-prisoner relations were ‘second to none’ and key work was making a huge difference. They highlighted impressive support for older prisoners, disabilities, complex social needs, and those at risk of self-harm, and praised work to turn around more challenging prisoners. They agreed, too, about reception and induction as well as phones and kiosks.