It’s bloody awful weather as I head to Wales to visit this small jail with its lovely grounds (there’s even a wall of wisteria). It’s something of an architectural jewel, in that it’s Grade II listed because it’s a largely unaltered Victorian prison.
It has three main wings which radiate off from the central rotunda, access to a farm, and famously housed Rudolf Hess for part of the Second World War.
The prisoners said the ‘very safe’ jail had a ‘real sense of community’ (e.g. fostered by joint sports events) with ‘lots of excellent staff’ offering mutual respect and ‘visible’ and responsive management. They said there were no illicit drugs (‘certainly no Spice’), called the security team ‘excellent’ – ‘key’ in keeping prisoners safe (and drug prevention) – and thought staff were ‘very good’ at de-escalation. They enjoyed the open regime (unlocked all day: 11.5 hrs), and rated the range of reps and mentors (meeting regularly with No. 1 & SMs) and keywork (‘working well’ and helping staff relations). They valued ‘excellent’ education & training (especially business start-up training) and the ‘very thorough’ induction.
The SMs agreed on the ‘very safe’ jail’s ‘community spirit’ (and joint events), excellent staff who ‘genuinely care’, highly visible, positive No. 1 (‘best I’ve worked with in over 30 years’), reps and mentors, consultation, open regime, ‘awesome’ safer custody team and ‘excellent’ de-escalation skills. They reported very little self-harm and said they’d yet to positively test for drugs (or find illicit phones): with security and prisoners ‘both key’ alongside keywork’s ‘massive influence’ for relations and safety. They praised social service links supporting older prisoners and ‘tough and demanding’ but ‘fair and inspiring’ management, who give due credit and consult & communicate with staff well. They valued monthly staff newsletters and popular breakfast with the No.1, staff recognition scheme, annual staff sports day, and praised the gardens, greenery & cleanliness.
The officers agreed it was a ‘very safe’ jail for staff and prisoners alike, with ‘great’ and welcoming staff. They also concurred that there were no illicit drugs, and agreed about prisoner relations (including joint events and competitions), staff de-escalation skills, keywork, and the No.1’s leadership (‘mucks in’) and breakfasts,. They rated the FMI training, open regime, full staff daily briefings, monthly shutdown, and bimonthly governor briefings.