Date of visit: 22 January 2019
Visit number: 73
Prison type: Long Term Category B
Officers felt the prison was safe and settled with good staff-prisoner relationships (‘better than most’), and attributed much of this to staff management and de-escalation skills. They noted a wide range of opportunities for prisoners, including offending behaviour programmes, the Psychologically Informed Planned Environment – a specialist unit run by psychologically trained staff and supervised by psychologists, to support prisoners’ rehabilitation unit, Gartree Therapeutic Community – a specialist unit for prisoners with personality disorders run along therapeutic lines (‘GTC’) and TC+ for those with learning disabilities. They praised education and training, singling out the Sue Ryder bike repair shop, and family visits. The staff recognition scheme, and two monthly shutdowns for training and staff briefings were positives, and new staff were welcomed and well supported by more experienced colleagues.
Managers agreed staff-prisoner relationships and safety were good and praised the prisoner management skills of staff. They also noted a wide range of opportunities for prisoners, highlighting in particular education (‘excellent staff and courses’), workshops (including Sue Ryder shop), PIPE, GTC and TC+. The dedicated Prisoners trained by Samaritans to provide a listening ear and support to prisoners in crisis cell, monthly family visits, and gift-giving scheme (allowing men to spend extra private cash on gifts at Christmas and Valentines) were all highlighted, as was the Committee of prisoner representatives meeting with senior management to discuss issues relevant to the management and care of prisoners in the jail. The layout of the prison, the grounds (‘lots of greenery and trees’, ‘good for staff and prisoners’), as well as estates management and gardens party, were all praised.
Prisoners too noted good staff-prisoner relationships and safety, and rated the specialist PIPE, TC and TC+ units. They also praised education and workshops, again singling out the Sue Ryder bike shop. They said family visits were ‘excellent’, and that prisoners could attend up to four a year. They highlighted in particular the Prisoner Council – a 7-member elected body meeting monthly with the Governor – which was ‘highly effective’, gave prisoners a voice, helped improve relations between prisoners and staff, and reduced tensions between prisoners. They also valued the wide range of prisoner reps and mentors.