Date of visit: 4 October 2018
Visit number: 52
Prison type: Category B Local
The prisoners described a ‘good jail’ and the ‘safest’ any of them had been to. They praised peers & mentors including peer-led induction, a ‘first timers’ support network, ‘very effective’ Violence Reduction reps (who formally mediate), the Prisoner Advice Line – telephone advice line, staffed by prisoners for prisoners advice line, ‘excellent’ healthcare champions, and Prisoners trained by Samaritans to provide a listening ear and support to prisoners in crisis for those with self-harm & mental health issues. Phones and Touch-screen terminals, normally on the wings, which allow prisoners to deal with many ‘domestic’ issues, such as submitting “apps” and ordering “canteen” were highly valued, food was ‘good’ and visits were ‘brilliant’ (including availability of hot food, family visits, and chance to play with their children in the open air). They also rated prisoner consultation, including regular meetings with wing and senior managers.
The Officers said prisoner relations were ‘good’ and ‘informal’ (with first names used). They praised communications & consultation, inc the ‘highly visible’ Director’s ‘open door policy’, consultation breakfasts with staff (in their birthday month) and regular full staff briefings. They valued a strong culture of giving credit where due, which ‘shows you’re appreciated’, including managers regularly thanking staff, ‘thank yous’ in the weekly newsletter, and more formal staff recognition (Employee/Team of the month, and certificates of achievement). They also rated twice-yearly staff parties, and annual family day when friends and family can tour the jail and see where they work.
The managers highlighted a safe prison and ‘a culture of respect’ towards prisoners. Induction, VR reps, healthcare champions, family support (including family reps on wings & Charity supporting prisoners to record a bedtime story to send out to their children www.storybookdads.org.uk), and phones & kiosks, were all positives , as was the ‘excellent’ resettlement work by the Community Rehabilitation Company – providing probation services for low and medium risk offenders, the ‘fantastic’ Recycling company providing employment and training for prisoners in custody and after release – they also help find housing for the homeless www.recyclinglives.com charity, and the highly praised Therapeutic Community – a specialist unit for prisoners with personality disorders run along therapeutic lines. Managers also valued an ‘open’, visible and supportive An informal term referring to a prison’s Governor (or Director in private jails), and the ‘can do attitude’, and strong camaraderie & teamwork, among staff. They also rated staff communications and consultation, staff recognition, family days and social events for staff, and ‘family friendly’ shift patterns.