Date of visit: 14 February 2019
Visit number: 80
Prison type: Category C
The Officers described a safe and calm prison, with very good staff-prisoner relations and a culture of trust, to which prisoners responded positively. A national scheme under which Prison Officers are given training and time to work one-to-one with around six prisoners, aimed at supporting their management and rehabilitation was a positive for everyone, as were the gardens and grounds, and cleanliness. They rated the wide range of work and training opportunities, and rapid allocation to them. They valued the daily briefing for operational staff, visibility of management and a ‘culture of thanks’, as well as the formal staff recognition scheme, with nominations from both prisoners and staff. They noted strong camaraderie and support among staff, and appreciated the annual Christmas party and summer barbeque, which were well attended by staff.
Managers also noted a safe and calm jail, with good staff-prisoner relationships. They too highlighted the physical environment and contribution of staff and prisoners to it. They noted a strong, individualised focus on safer custody, and commitment to equalities. They valued the quarterly Committee of prisoner representatives meeting with senior management to discuss issues relevant to the management and care of prisoners in the jail and monthly wing forums, and range of peer mentors and support workers – and highlighted the prisoner ‘public health trainers’ (supported by the local authority), patient health forum, and Charity supporting men’s mental health andysmanclub.co.uk. Probation, healthcare, and education (including Scheme bringing together students and prisoners to study together – see also “Inside Out” with Bath Spa Uni.) and ‘Arts & Lit festival’, were singled out, as were the quarterly magazine by and for prisoners, and staff recognition.
The prisoners praised education (‘best I’ve ever seen’), library (‘exceptional’), ‘Arts & Lit festival’ and ‘Learn Together’ initiative. The farms and gardens were highly rated, as was the approach to diversity and support for over 50’s. They valued the prison magazine, Prison Council, and range of peer mentors and support workers. Family visits were another positive, as was a relatively relaxed regime. The ‘Friends of Erlestoke’ charity, which provided a range of services to prisoners and help with transport for families, was also singled out.