Another double-header today – Coldingley in the afternoon, but my first stop, the 92nd jail on my tour (just 10 more to go after this), was Send. On the site of a former isolation hospital, Send started its prison life as a Junior Detention Centre and then operated as a Cat C male prison until it was knocked down and rebuilt in the late 1990’s, and re-opened as a women’s prison.
The Officers felt staff cared about the women and relations with them were good. They felt the jail was safe, and highlighted a multidisciplinary approach to managing challenging women, and the role of the safer custody team. They rated a reliable and relatively open regime, and highlighted prisoner consultation, including thematic focus groups and monthly prison council meetings with the No. 1, as well as regular family days, with visits staff in ‘civvies’. The ‘lovely’ grounds, including flower beds, open space and a duck pond, were seen as positives for all. They also rated relations among staff, and valued the visibility of managers, including a No. 1 ‘who knows everyone’; monthly staff meetings and training shutdowns; regular staff consultation; ‘excellent’ care team; and support for staff after any incident (including the Governor contacting any staff member who is assaulted).
The women agreed staff cared and relations with them were good. They too felt the prison was safe, and rated the ‘semi-open’ regime and responsibility and freedom that afforded. Visits, including family days and adults only visits, ‘more relaxed than elsewhere’, were highlighted. They also valued a wide-range of peer supporters, including reception/induction and PID workers, as well as the prison council and thematic focus groups, and opportunities for personal development (including TC and PD units, drug services, RJ programme and peer-led trauma course).
Managers too rated safety and staff-prisoner relations, highlighted care of challenging women and those in crisis, and valued the grounds. They noted many of the same development opportunities as the women, as well as the PIPE unit, education & training, and events showcasing opportunities to the women. Help with disclosure letters and CVs, and links with employers, were rated too, and the Chaplaincy were ‘fantastic’. They also highlighted staff support, training, consultation & communication, as well as an annual fun day and Xmas dinner.