The weather was distinctly cold and wet for my visit to Whatton. It’s a modern jail, opened in 1990, and caters for Category C sex offenders. It’s situated at the edge of the village of Whatton-in-the-vale, surrounding by Nottinghamshire countryside – and the grounds are rather lovely and colourful, even in January – but it’s a bugger to get to if you’re coming by public transport!
The prisoners praised the jail’s safety. They rated keywork, good staff-prisoner relationships, a strong rehab culture and time out of cell. Education and training, including distance learning and vocational courses (e.g. business development) were praised. The gym and Chaplaincy were singled out. Outside links (including sports teams, outside speakers, Geese Theatre, Learning Together) were positives, and visits, including family visits, were ‘very good’. Prisoner consultation was strong, with a wide range of reps meeting regularly with management. Peer support was a positive. Induction was highlighted. Autism and dementia awareness and support, with many staff and prisoners trained, were also positives, as was support for those with learning disabilities and reading problems. The OPAL drop-in for over 50s was highlighted, and the grounds were appreciated by all.
Managers agreed staff-prisoner relationships and safety were good and keywork has been very positive. They highlighted support for older prisoners, and those with autism and dementia. Education (Ofsted ‘outstanding’), preparation for release course, visiting lecturers and Learning Together programme were highlighted. Prisoner engagement and consultation were strengths. Low drug use was attributed to scanning of all mail, and strong support and consistent sanctions for users. The gardens and cleanliness were positives for all. The staff mess had been refurbished and was widely used. There was a strong care team, a strong focus on staff well-being, a widely appreciated monthly staff recognition scheme, and opportunities for family members to tour the jail.
The Officers also rated safety and staff-prisoner relations, and noted the de-escalation skills of staff. They appreciated the staff mess, and the gardens and cleanliness of the prison which was good for staff and prisoners. They also highlighted support for older prisoners and social care provision.