HMIPS Standard 8
The prison’s priorities are consistent with the achievement of these Standards and are clearly communicated to all staff. There is a shared commitment by all people working in the prison to co-operate constructively to deliver these priorities.
Staff understand how their work contributes directly to the achievement of the prison’s priorities. The prison management team shows leadership in deploying its resources effectively to achieve improved performance. It ensures that staff have the skills necessary to perform their roles well. All staff work well with others in the prison and with agencies which provide services to prisoners. The prison works collaboratively and professionally with other prisons and other criminal justice organisations.
Overall rating: Satisfactory
With one or two exceptions, the prison performs satisfactorily against this Standard. It was clear that the challenges stemming from the staffing situation had been significant and relentless since the tail end of 2017, so the deployment of resources had rightly focussed on maintaining core operational functions. This had impacted adversely in a number of ways, not least the inability to make progress with implementing a new Equality and Diversity action plan, which must now be given greater priority.
The SMT showed leadership in trying to find new ways to address their recruitment challenges and now need the support of SPS in implementing more durable solutions, rather than continuing to rely on detached duty cover.
In the longer term, there is also scope for HMP YOI Grampian and SPS to make greater use of new technology to improve prisoner access to information and services, support prisoner contact with families and reduce paperwork for prison staff.
In general, staff understood how their work contributed to the prison’s priorities and were clear on their own roles, and there was a good culture of mutual support across the prison. Indeed during the inspection process it was emphasised how much that mutual support meant to staff. Whilst efforts had been made by management to recognise good performance and value the contribution made by staff in often difficult circumstances, there was scope to further embed such a culture at all levels of the establishment.
The desire of SMT to provide a ‘soft landing’ for new recruits after their induction programme at the SPS College was an excellent concept, although it appeared from discussions with staff that the staffing challenges facing the prison meant that had not always been achieved in practice. There was a clear commitment at all levels of the organisation for developmental training, but the recruitment challenges had often meant staff having to learn from line managers or other staff who were themselves inexperienced. The difficulty in securing staff time for training or to act as instructors had created difficulties in meeting targets for completion of mandatory training, but the process was well monitored. It was pleasing to see recognition of the importance of the FLM role, but more could be done to support this group in particular and those acting up.
There was evidence that poor performance and disciplinary issues were being appropriately handled and absence management was now being addressed more systematically.
There was very clear evidence of the prison fostering strong supportive professional relationships with a wide range of partner organisations and of good communication and effective partnership working. This was a real strength for the prison and there was much to commend here, particularly the partnership with those supporting the excellent family visitor centre, the various throughcare initiatives, the radio and media production work, library, education, employment related and other purposeful activity.
There were inevitably concerns, however, about the longer term sustainability of some of these initiatives, particularly where third sector partners were dependent on securing funding from external sources. A greater focus should therefore now be given to the longer term strategic planning of services, role of partner organisations and how to address funding uncertainties or prepare for future change.
Finally, it was noted that whilst action had been taken on the different recommendations made in the last HMIPS report on HMP YOI Grampian three years ago, it had not always been sufficient to address the underlying issues raised. Moreover, different colour coding systems were in place for monitoring different action plans within the prison. A single Red Amber Green (RAG) scoring system should be applied consistently for monitoring all action plans. More attention should also be given when closing specific action points on whether the underlying issue raised by the relevant scrutiny body had been fully addressed or further action was needed.