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!
Managers felt the prison was ‘safe’ in spite of the presence of over 140 gangs, attributing that to a ‘highly skilled’ workforce and excellent staff-prisoner relations, a Security department that did ‘a great job’, a comprehensive VR strategy, ‘highly effective’ VR reps, and the Catch22 gangs project. The Director also noted ‘very low’ levels of self-harm and prisoners on ACCTs, and vulnerable prisoners kept on normal location, again crediting staff for much of this. They also highlighted family support, inc. family visits, homework club and Storybook Dads, and rated education & training, and local employment links (including a jobs fair) as ‘outstanding’. Kiosks and in-cell phones were positives too.
Prisoners said staff-prisoner relations were ‘very good’, and ‘better than many jails’, and called staff ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’. They said prisoner consultation & engagement was notably good too, with a wide range of peer mentors, inc. Listeners and VR reps in particular, a ‘very effective’ Prisoner Council, and weekly wing-meetings with residential governors. They felt kiosks and in-cell phones, as well as showers in cells, made ‘a real difference’. Family relationship support was ‘very good’, including regular family visits, a homework club, and ‘baby bonding’ and ‘toddler time’ sessions, as well as Storybook Dads. The library was ‘excellent’, and they valued highly the frequent visiting-speakers and other events organised by the librarian. They also rated education and training, and gym facilities and access. The food, and being able to eat in association areas rather than cells, were also appreciated.
Officers felt staff-prisoner relations were ‘excellent’. They valued the involvement of prisoners in the regime and support of a wide range of outside agencies. Kiosks and in-cell phones had a positive impact. They also highlighted IDTS and mental health support, as well as support for prisoner-family relations.