It’s an absolutely beautiful day for my visit to HM Prison Warren Hill – it feels more like Summer than October. The grounds of this very small jail (its population is just over 250) are lovely, and part of an open and clean feeling environment, with plenty of sky.
Warren Hill was hived off from HM Prison Hollesley Bay, and specialises in prisoners with indeterminate sentences. Both jails sit in the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a mile or so from the sea. Just north lies Sutton Hoo, the famous site of two 6th and 7th century cemeteries, which include a ship-burial and extraordinary gold treasures.
Prisoners described the jail as ‘extremely safe’ and Spice use as rare. They liked the staged ‘progression regime’ and focus on moving indeterminate prisoners on (‘the prison gives you hope’). They said relationships with staff were very good, praised staff commitment to helping prisoners, and felt keywork was excellent. They liked being called ‘residents’, and valued being given trust and responsibility by the prison. The prison council was ‘very active and effective’, and there were a wide range of peer mentors, each with an identified SMT link. Other areas highlighted include: 12-hour continuous time out of cell; self-catering facilities and prison shop; family visits (‘on another level’, and unsupervised for ‘Stage 3’ prisoners); drug services; and management visibility.
Staff noted the prison’s culture of ‘hope’ and felt the Progression Regime works well. They agreed relations with prisoners were excellent. They felt staff had very strong de-escalation skills, contributing to ‘very low’ levels of violence, and said Spice use was ‘low’, too. They said key work was a very positive development. Staff also noted a strong sense of community among staff of all disciplines, and a friendly feel across the jail. Staff also highlighted a visible, positive and supportive management, and valued the staff recognition scheme (to which prisoners also contribute nominations). Drug services were described as ‘excellent’.
Managers highlighted: the Progression regime, and specialist PIPE and TC units; the ethos of ‘hope & humanity’; staff-prisoner relationships; sense of community; safety; low drug use; staff commitment and de-escalation skills; prisoner engagement and consultation; drug services; family days; prison shop and self-catering facilities; visible and supportive management (including an ‘inspirational’ and consultative No. 1); monthly shutdown for training and staff consultation; governor’s newsletter and bi-monthly full staff briefing.