Date of visit: 6 December 2018
Visit number: 67
Prison type: Category B Local
The prisoners called safety greatly improved lately, helped by ‘more staff’ and Violence Reduction reps ‘on each wing’, said there were some ‘excellent’ staff, and thought in-cell phones & Touch-screen terminals, normally on the wings, which allow prisoners to deal with many ‘domestic’ issues, such as submitting “apps” and ordering “canteen” were transformational. Family visits were ‘very good’ (‘really informal’, staff in ‘civvies’, access to games etc), as were education & training (especially CISCO’s IT Essentials course & Radio Wanno: also widely listened to, and ‘a great source’ of information for prisoners).
The Officers described a ‘big family’ of friendly, supportive staff ‘who you know have got your back’, ‘amazing’ Prison Officer Entry Level Training – generally used to describe Officers under training and recent graduates trainers and mentors, with 2 weeks of post-training shadowing ‘a great help’, and new Officers made very welcome. Supervisory Officers – 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 on the landings and a full-time 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” per wing made ‘a huge difference’. They rated twice-daily SO briefings, monthly training shutdowns and the ‘massive’ gain from in-cell phones, and Kiosks, which cut staff workload and give responsibility to prisoners.
Managers agreed it was ‘a family’ (‘more than many places’) with staff who were committed to ‘making a difference’. In-cell phones & Kiosks were very highly valued. Safety was ‘much improved’, with VR teams of staff & peer reps ‘crucial’, alongside 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 (‘going really well’, and welcomed by all). They valued strong leadership and the No. 1’s ‘clear direction’. Library services, including an outreach trolley, help for new readers, adult literacy group, A structured approach used by trained prisoners to help other prisoners learn to read https://toe-by-toe.co.uk, and events, including visits and readings from authors, were ‘fantastic’. They also highlighted regular job fairs with outside employers and pre-release support and training from the ‘Standout Programme’. They praised the 12-bed mental health unit (run on Therapeutic Community – a specialist unit for prisoners with personality disorders run along therapeutic lines lines), ‘excellent’ local mental health service support, and full health screening (including for blood-borne viruses) on arrival – ‘recognised as good practice’. They also valued a video conferencing centre to allow remote court appearances, which would take pressure off reception and ‘save a fortune’ in escorts.