Date of visit: 26 February 2019
Visit number: 85
Prison type: Female
The women said the prison was safe, staff were ‘brilliant’, and the Chaplaincy were ‘amazing’. They rated healthcare, a full-time trauma-focused counselling psychologist, Drug Recovery Community (DRC) and Abstinence based programme for people with drug and alcohol problems (based on the approach of Alcoholics Anonymous), and ‘Stepping Stones’ mental health courses. Family support, including Mother & Baby, and all day family visits run by Charity supporting prisoners and their families www.prisonadvice.org.uk, were another positive, as were mentors on reception & induction, trained safer custody mentors, Prisoners trained by Samaritans to provide a listening ear and support to prisoners in crisis and A structured approach used by trained prisoners to help other prisoners learn to read https://toe-by-toe.co.uk mentors. Access to distance learning and phones in cells were also valued highly, and the grounds were seen as a positive for both prisoners and staff.
The Officers described a strong sense of community and excellent relations between staff & prisoners. They too highlighted healthcare, the DRC, peer support mentors, and Pact-led family and Mother & Baby visits. They also highly rated the Mother & Baby unit, and felt education was a particular strength, including access to distance learning and ‘outstanding’ art classes. They agreed with the women about the impact of the grounds, and also noted the use of pastel shades throughout the prison, and the role of the ‘housekeeping’ work party in keeping the prison clean and preparing cells for new receptions.
Managers agreed the prison was safe with excellent staff-prisoner relationships, and praised the positive attitudes and caring approach of staff. They singled out reception & induction and the role of peer mentors there, the personality disorder and mental health units, and the role of peer mentors in safer custody. They also rated education and the gym (with up to 13 sessions a week), as well as support for children and families provided by Pact. The gardens, cleanliness and low rise buildings were positives too. They felt staff were well supported by managers and the ‘excellent’ care team, said self-rostering worked well and was widely valued, and highlighted the availability of parking for staff!