Date of visit: 30 October 2018
Visit number: 57
Prison type: Category B Local
The Officers and Custodial Manager – uniformed officers responsible for managing Band 3 and 4 staff (see also “Band 3 / Band 4”) Band 3 / Band 4 – Prison Officer grades – Band 3 is the main grade for Officers, Band 4 officers are also known as “supervisory Officers” said staff were ‘great’, ‘really support one another’, had a ‘real commitment’, and were ‘prepared to go the extra mile’ to ‘get the job done’. They also cited ‘the real support’ between operational and non-operational staff. Things had improved ‘markedly’, and additional staff had made ‘a real difference’, with retention up and new staff ‘bedding in’. 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 big positive’ and had ‘improved’ relationships with prisoners, as well as staff confidence. CMs were ‘good at saying thank you’ to staff for a job well done. The staff mess was ‘a good thing’ and widely appreciated. They liked the monthly newsletter keeping staff informed, as well as a high quality and detailed printed guide for prisoners on the jail and the development opportunities it affords.
The Senior Management Team called the jail ‘very good’ at handling incidents, and also noted the staff’s commitment to get the job done and keep the regime running, even with staff shortages, which ‘allowed a fuller regime than most other One of four levels of security for male prisoners – from Cat A (high security) to Cat D (the lowest level). They valued both the staff mess and the staff counsellor. They noted the wide range of peer mentors and support workers, and pointed to weekly meetings between peer workers and managers. Communications with prisoners were praised, including using TV channel promoting in-cell learning in prisons www.wayout.tv to keep them informed, alongside a monthly newsletter to prisoners, and a guide to the prison and its opportunities. They highlighted strong relations with the local Samaritans, and a ‘very strong’ Prisoners trained by Samaritans to provide a listening ear and support to prisoners in crisis scheme, as well as a very good psychology team who play an important research-and-data-led role in supporting management.
The prisoners called staff ‘great people’ who ‘really care’. Family visits were ‘very good’ and ‘much better’ than similar jails elsewhere (e.g. playing games in the grounds with kids if the weather was good enough), with support for families ‘generally very good’. They liked the range of mentors and support workers, too.