It’s a short walk from Isis to Thameside prison, itself, as the name suggests, a short walk to the Thames. Alongside Belmarsh, it’s one of three prisons in this triangle built on the former Royal Arsenal.
During the First World War, almost 80,000 people were employed producing ordnance here, making ‘warlike stores’, ammunition, artillery pieces, and gun carriages. And people think prisons can be explosive!
Noting the prison had over 140 gangs, the Director praised Security’s ‘key work’, the VR strategy and reps, and a specialist ‘early days’ induction facility, and called it ‘safe’. He noted ‘very low’ levels of self-harm and prisoners on ACCTs, and that vulnerable prisoners were on normal location, not separated. He called staff-prisoner relations ‘excellent’, and also rated family support, visits, education, training, and local employment links (including a jobs fair) as outstanding.
Custodial Managers also said staff-prisoner relations were ‘excellent’, and agreed that Security did ‘a great job’. They rated outside agencies (e.g. Catch22 gangs project), and liked the ‘buddies’ attached to all new staff.
Prisoners agreed staff-prisoner relations were ‘better than many jails’, and called staff ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’. They said prisoner consultation & engagement was notably good, pointing to a wide range of mentor and peer schemes like Listeners and VR reps, a ‘very effective’ Prisoner Council, and weekly SMT meetings and regular on wing-meetings with residential governors. As in other prisons, they felt kiosks and in-cell phones and showers made ‘a real difference’. They said family relationship support was very good, mentioning phones, regular family visits, homework club, ‘baby bonding and toddler time’, as well as Storybook Dads. They liked the food, and eating in association areas not cells. They thought the library, as well as education and training, were excellent, and praised gym facilities and access.
Officers agreed staff-prisoner relations were ‘excellent’, also praising outside agencies, prisoner engagement, kiosks and in-cell phones, as well as family support. They also highlighted IDTS and mental health support for prisoners.