Another wonderful drive through the country in summer, this time taking me through Berkshire and Hampshire.
Although the prison I’m visiting is Victorian, Winchester’s earliest prison dates to 1228, was rebuilt in the 18th century, and the part the Governor once lived in is now a Wetherspoon’s called ‘The Old Gaolhouse’!
Officers described strong, mutually supportive, relationships among staff, and praised both the ‘humanity’ of staff and their ‘relationship with prisoners’. They appreciated the ‘very good’ breakfast briefing every weekday, and monthly full staff meeting – and mentoring and support for new staff was well regarded. Staff also felt that support for prisoners’ families – including evening and weekend visits, family visit days, Homework Club, Storybook Dads, fatherhood course – and the role of Spurgeons children’s charity, were particularly strong.
Prisoners praised staff-prisoner relationships, noting that staff had a ‘good rapport’ and were supportive of prisoners. They also praised support for their families and the role of Spurgeons in this – highlighting (in addition to what staff mentioned) the support provided in dealing with social services. And they picked out support for veterans in custody at Winchester as another positive.
Supervising Officers and Custodial Managers described the staff as ‘excellent’, and praised relations between prisoners and staff. They also added their voice in praise for the work of Spurgeons in helping to support and maintain family relations.
The Governor highlighted the breakfast briefings and monthly full staff meetings, as well as a weekly newsletter to staff, as important aids to effective communication. She also highlighted staff recognition, and staff well-being events and initiatives, which she felt had helped improve morale and reduce staff sickness, and felt that the extended, two-week, induction process for POELTs had brought real benefits. As with the others, the Governor highly praised family work in the prison, inc. the role of Spurgeons.