Date of visit: 12 March 2019
Visit number: 91
Prison type: Female
Managers said the jail was safe and clean, with good staff-prisoner relations and an emphasis on respect and decency. They highlighted resettlement and the role of Offender Management Unit – prison-based team responsible for helping to draw up and oversee a prisoner’s sentence plan, and linking with their probation officer outside; education & skills training; the charity clothes shop run by and for the women; and ‘Together Women’s Project’. The ‘Rowan House’ day centre, for more vulnerable women, and the prison’s ability to manage challenging and complex women, were highly rated, as were the range of prisoner mentors and reps. The Mother & Baby unit, Mother & Baby visits, family days and lifer days, as well as support for visiting children, were positives too. They also highlighted services run by the gym for staff, including classes, sports injury rehab, healthcare advice and well-being days; staff recognition; staff mess (including cooked breakfasts); staff counsellor; and staff-family BBQ, and tours of the jail. The Chapel staff were ‘fantastic’, and the grounds were seen as a positive for all.
The Officers said they really cared about the women and had very good relations with them, and agreed that care for more vulnerable, challenging and complex women was a particular strength. In addition to many of the positives for the women identified by managers, they highlighted time out of cell, a ’40 mins from bus to bed’ reception process, and support for care leavers as strengths. They highly valued all the support and services for staff noted by managers – especially ‘bacon sarnies’ in the morning – and agreed the grounds were a benefit for all.
The women highlighted, among others, the Personality Disorder unit and Rowan House day centre; ‘Power to Change’ domestic violence and peer-led ‘Healing trauma’ courses; art group; family visits and Charity supporting prisoners to record a bedtime story to send out to their children www.storybookdads.org.uk; access to distance learning (including Open University); recognition awards (including £5 private cash voucher); and the library, which included a coffee shop where they could meet friends. They too singled out the Chaplaincy staff as ‘fantastic’.