Though it warmed up later, it was a cold start for my visit to Whitemoor. It’s a good 40 minute drive from Peterborough station so I was delighted that the prison had arranged for me to be picked up – all the more so that my driver was an old friend of the Trust and former Award Winner, Pete Brotherton, and it was great to catch up with him on the way.
The Officers described a safe and calm prison, with ‘excellent’ staff-prisoner relations, and strong support among staff. They appreciated the No. 1’s visibility, and encouragement and support for staff (including after incidents), regular consultation with staff, and weekly newsletter (which also includes thanks and messages of support). Twice daily wing briefings were also valued, as was ‘trauma informed’ training for all staff. The range of specialist units, including PIPE and PD units, were rated highly, as were support for families, Learning Together (with Cambridge Uni), and staff-prisoner ‘rehab culture’ committee.
Managers agreed the jail was safe and calm, with good staff-prisoner relationships. They highlighted individual action plans and specialist units for complex and challenging prisoners, wide-spread engagement and consultation with prisoners, and support for families. A staff-prisoner Spice action committee, and scanning of all mail, had reduced NPS. They noted a strong family culture across disciplines, and a resilient and dedicated workforce. Staff support was a strength and sick rates were ‘very low’. The Governor was ‘highly visible’, empowered managers and consulted widely with staff, followed up all assaults personally, and regularly praised and thanked staff, including through the weekly newsletter. Open days for staff families were another positive.
Prisoners too rated safety and staff-prisoner relationships. They valued a stable and predictable regime, and opportunities for progression, and highlighted prisoner consultation and engagement, singling out the peer-led induction programme. The described the No. 1 as ‘approachable’, ‘progressive’ and ‘honest’. The library and education, including the involvement of outside speakers and groups (like ‘Learning Together’), were ‘fantastic’. Support for families, including all day family visits, were highlighted, as were the kitchen facilities on every spur.