Date of visit: 22 January 2018
Visit number: 5
Prison type: Category B Local
Local recruitment had allowed the prison to rapidly reach full staffing, which ‘has made a real difference’. Managers praised the friendliness and professionalism of staff. They highlighted staff recognition and support of staff, including a staff counsellor. They also noted a commitment to effective communication and consultation with staff, along with visible management, and ‘back to the floor days’, in which managers spend time shadowing frontline staff. The introduction of in-cell 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” on the wing were widely welcomed. Family visits and the ‘Homework Club’ were rated highly, as were education and training opportunities for prisoners. The range of peer mentors (including novel ‘communication orderlies’, similar to Prisoner Information Desk worker – peer worker giving prisoners information and support, often also supporting the application process (see under “Apps”) Apps - Apps is short for applications – the means by which prisoners can make requests (e.g. to see the doctor) workers) were also highlighted.
As with managers, staff highlighted a friendly staff culture (‘we’re quite famous for it’) which they said was particularly appreciated by new staff and those visiting on Refers to Officers seconded to other prisons to cover a shortfall in staff there. They also noted good relationships between prisoners and staff. They praised the visibility of management, including the ‘back to the floor days’, as well as management communications, including regular staff briefings and an ‘open door’ policy. The introduction of a staff counsellor, and dedicated support for new staff, were also welcomed. They rated family visits and education and training opportunities for prisoners as key positives too.
The prisoners highlighted family visits and in-cell phones as positives which helped them maintain family relationships. They welcomed the introduction of Kiosks on the wings, which they said helped in submitting App is short for application – the means by which prisoners can make requests (e.g. to see the doctor), and organising visits, Process through which prisoners can purchase items such as toiletries, snacks and clothing from approved lists agreed by the prison and menu choices etc more effectively, as well as reducing pressures on staff and removing sources of potential conflict. Peer support mentors, including Prisoners trained by Samaritans to provide a listening ear and support to prisoners in crisis and the ‘communication orderlies’ were also highly rated.