Wednesday 9 May 2012

Grendon Prison ~ Therapeutic Community

Radio 4 programme 9pm Tuesday on Grendon Prison.
I wrote on Facebook:

Radio 4 is doing a spot on Grendon Prison. It's called a social learning experience. The inmates regard it as the toughest jail they've ever been in. Yet, in front of 40 men, they all have to face why they are offending, be responsible for their actions in the community. It is indeed a "form" of walking in the light, of being honest about what they've done, about who they are, about what they are going to do about it. Very interesting model. MUCH LOWER reoffense rates. But what is incredible it deals with the most serious cases of murder and rape which USUALLY have high repeat offense rates. Funding cuts have hit this groundbreaking prison hard. The difference with Grendon is that the WHOLE prison operates as a therapeutic community.
Here is their webpage, plus a story 8 years on from an inmate. Worth focussing on saints!

HMP GRENDON Prison Regime Info

Address Grendon Underwood HP18 0TL image of HMP GRENDON prison
Phone No. 01296 445000
Governor / Director Dr Peter Bennett
Category Male Cat. B
Region South East
Operational Capacity 573 (Incl. Spring Hill)
Cell Occupancy Single
Listener Scheme No
First Night Centre No
IMB Chair: Mrs Louise Hammond
Vice Chair: Mrs Margaret Cripps
Visitor Info Page HMP GRENDON Visitor Info
Navigate this page General | Unlock & Association | Sport | Library | Faith | Healthcare | Education | Employment | Offending Behaviour Courses | Resettlement | Additional Information
HMP Grendon is a category B prison for adult males.

Grendon was opened in 1962 as an experimental psychiatric prison to provide treatment for prisoners with antisocial personality disorders, under the direction of a medical superintendent.
HMP Grendon is jointly managed with HMP Springhill (situated next door) Although sharing a number of common services Springhill and Grendon operate as separate units.
Over the years it has been brought more in line with the rest of the prison estate and is now run by a prison service governor. It does, however continue to operate a unique regime in its therapeutic care of prisoners.
Currently Grendon can house up to 235 residents in Cat B secure conditions, with each of its six wings operating as autonomous therapeutic communities.
The Grendon regime is unique, as the therapeutic programme is the core work of the establishment. The therapeutic programme is based on therapeutic community principles, where a dedicated multidisciplinary team of staff work together with prisoners, in an atmosphere where attitudes and expressions, which would not normally be tolerated in prison, are accepted and used to give feedback to prisoners. This therapeutic dialogue leads to prisoners' greater understanding of their usual behaviour. Grendon aims to help prisoners develop more positive relationships, to change how they relate to others and to reduce their risk of re-offending.
There are five separate therapeutic communities housing approximately 40 men each.
Reception Criteria
The prison accepts serving category B & C male prisoners in England & Wales over the age of 21. Prisoners must be serving sentences that will allow a stay of at least 24 months at Grendon. Prisoners have to choose to go to Grendon, and must have a genuine desire to change and to work at changing. They must also be committed to staying free from drugs whilst in therapy.
  • Fridge - Freezer
  • Hobbies kits
  • In-cell power
  • Own bedding
  • Own clothes (all)
  • Pets
  • Playstation
  • Television (£1 per week)

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Mon: 08:10 - 13:00 & 14:00 - 19:30
Tue: 08:10 - 13:00 & 14:00 - 19:30
Wed: 08:10 - 13:00 & 14:00 - 19:30
Thu: 08:10 - 13:00 & 14:00 - 19:30
Fri: 08:10 - 17:30
Sat: 08:40 - 12:30 & 13:30 - 17:30
Sun: 08:40 - 12:30 & 13:30 - 17:30


The prison acts as a Therapeutic Community and there are no periods set aside for Association. Prisoners organise their own activities.

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Sports available include;
  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Circuit Training
  • Light Circuit Training
  • Remedial
  • Soccer
  • Soft Tennis
  • Volleyball

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A variery of sesions throughout the week.
Also access through Education.

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Every prison has a Chaplaincy department managed by a Co-ordinating Chaplain and supported by admin staff, other Chaplains and ‘Sessional Chaplains’ (faith leaders who visit for specific services or sessions). The Chaplaincy is considered an important part of the prison structure. When a prisoner arrives at a prison they are usually seen by a Chaplain within 24 hours and are invited to register as a specific religion (if they haven’t already done so) and can change their declared religion at any time.

The Chaplaincy does far more than just pastoral care; they often are able to lend radios, musical instruments and typewriters; they may take part in Sentence Planning and are available as a ‘listening ear’ and are able, sometimes, to help with domestic problems. Most Chaplaincies run various courses and activities which may or may not have a religious theme. Every prisoner has the right to follow their religious practices and attend Chapel for services pertaining to their declared faith (even when segregated).

The Chaplaincy are able to organise faith activities for all main religions (as recognised by the Prison Service; this does not, at present include Rastafarian as a specific religion) and contact faith representatives to visit individual or groups of prisoners for the purpose of religious activities. The chaplaincy can also intercede on matters of religious dress, diet and artefacts. A full list of permitted artefacts can be found in the Glossary Section under Religious Artefacts.

You can contact the Chaplaincy by letter or by telephoning the main prison number and asking to speak to the Chaplaincy. The Chaplaincy works as part of the prison and cannot, therefore, guarantee confidentiality (they can explain this to you in detail). Prisoners can contact the Chaplaincy in person or by Application.

Chaplaincy Statement of Purpose (HMPS)
The Chaplaincy is committed to serving the needs of prisoners, staff and religious traditions by engaging all human experience. We will work collaboratively, respecting the integrity of each tradition and discipline. We believe that faith and the search for meaning directs and inspires life, and are committed to providing sacred spaces and dedicated teams to deepen and enrich human experience. We contribute to the care of prisoners to enable them to lead law-abiding and useful lives in custody and after release.

The Co-ordinating Chaplain at Grendon is: Keith Salter
There is a full-time Free Church Chaplain and part-time Anglican, Catholic and Muslim Chaplains.
There is a Chapel and Multi-faith Room. The co-ordinating Chaplain accommodates the needs of all faiths at the prison.

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The unit is type 3, providing 24 hours cover.
Doctors are contracted from a local GP practice and provide three surgeries a week and an out of hours service. The team are a mix of NMC registered officers and nurses, and clinics provided include: Nicotine Cessation, Physiotherapy, Dental, Optical, Wellman, Diabetic and Asthma.
Specialist Clinics
  • CPN: Daily
  • Dentist: Twice a week
  • InReach: Daily
  • Optician: Monthly
  • Physio: Fortnightly
  • Podiatry: As required
  • Stop Smoking: Weekly

NHS Healthcare Information for Grendon

Prison Healthcare Manager: Veronica Ihonor
Tel: 01296 443000

PCT: Buckinghamshire Primary Care Trust
South Central Strategic Health Authority

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
PALS is there to help when you need advice, or wish to make a complaint. As a patient, relative or carer PALS provide confidential advice and support, helping you to sort out any concerns that you may have about any aspect of your NHS care.

The service aims to:
• advise and support patients, their families and carers
• provide information on NHS services
• listen to your concerns, suggestions or queries
• help sort out problems quickly on your behalf

PALS acts independently when handling patient and family concerns, liaising with staff, managers and where appropriate, relevant organisations to negotiate prompt solutions. If necessary they can also refer patients and families to specific local or national-based support agencies.

Contact Information

Tel: 0800 328 5640
Text: 07876 231 045

Patient Experience Service,
Buckinghamshire PCT,
3rd Floor, Rapid House,
40 Oxford Road,
High Wycombe,
HP11 2EE

There is also a Dental Helpline for ALL NHS dental enquiries: 01702 226668

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The Manchester College
The Manchester College, Offender Learning Directorate, Fielden Compus, Burlow Manor Road M1 3HB
Tel: 0800 068 8585

Career Information & Advice Services (CIAS)
Tribal Education Ltd
Head office: 87-91 Newman Street, London W1T 3EY
Tel: 020 7323 7100

Classes include;
  • Art
  • Basic Education
  • Clait
  • Computer Studies
  • Cookery
  • Crafts
  • Creative Writing
  • Drama
  • English
  • Key Skills
  • Life and Social Skills
  • Literacy
  • Maths
  • Music
  • Numeracy
  • Open University
  • Pottery


OFSTED inspect education establishments from schools to colleges to prisons. They inspect education facilities within prisons. Grendon is inspected along with Springhill.Ofsted have inspected these prisons.
Inspection judgements
Inspectors use a four-point scale to summarise their judgements about achievement and standards, the quality of provision, and leadership and management, which includes a grade for equality of opportunity.
Key for inspection grades
  • Grade 1 Outstanding;
  • Grade 2 Good;
  • Grade 3 Satisfactory;
  • Grade 4 Inadequate.
Click Here for further information on how inspection judgements are made.

Scope of the inspection
In deciding the scope of the inspection, inspectors take account of the provider’s most recent self-assessment report and development plans, and comments from the local Learning and Skills Council (LSC) or other funding body. Where appropriate, inspectors also consider the previous inspection report , reports from the inspectorates’ monitoring visits, and data on learners and their achievements over the period since the previous inspection.
OFSTED Number: 52328
Last inspection: 11/08/2008
Summary of grades awarded
Achievement and standards: 2
Capacity to improve: 2
Effectiveness of provision: 2
Employability training: 2
Equality of opportunity: 2
Leadership and management: 2
Literacy, numeracy and ESOL: 2
Personal development and social integration: 2
Quality of provision: 3

Click Here to read their report

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Employment and workshops include;
  • Business Craft
  • Catering
  • Gardening
  • Industrial Cleaning
  • Journalism
  • Laundry
  • Sports Studies

Learning aims recorded for Skills Funding Agency OLASS
Adult Literacy
Adult Literacy (Entry 1, 2 and 3)
Adult Numeracy
Basic First Aid
Certificate for IT Users (CLAiT Plus)
Certificate for IT Users (New CLAiT)
Construction Skills Certification Scheme
Digital Photography (Advanced)
Digital Photography (Beginner)
Digital Photography (Intermediate)
Diploma for IT Users (CLAiT Plus)
Diploma for IT Users (New CLAiT)
Fundamentals of Food Hygiene for the Food Industry
Introductory Basic Construction Skills
Introductory Music Technology
Key Skills in Application of Number - level 3
Key Skills in Communication - level 1
Key Skills in Communication - level 3
Non-externally certificated - Entry Level, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14), PW A
NVQ in Hospitality
NVQ in Professional Cookery
OCN Level 1, PW A, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)
OCN Level 2, PW A, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)
Practical Musicianship Grade 1
Practical skills/crafts, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)
Theory Grade 1
Vocational study not leading to a recognised qualification, Preparation for Life and Work (SSA 14)

Current Wages

Employed: £8.42 - £14.51
Education: £9.05 (Standard) £10.90 (Enhanced)
Retired: £3.25 (Standard) or £6.00 (Enhanced)
Long term sick: £3.25 (Standard) or £6.00 (Enhanced)

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As a collection of Democratic Therapeutic Communities Grendon does not run specific Offending Behaviour Courses but they say that many of the areas covered in normal courses are covered in the therapeutic environment.

Family Days Available Yes
Guardian Has To Stay Yes
Own Children Yes
Grandchildren Yes
Age Limits Up to 18
No of Visitors Permitted Two adults and any children who meet the criteria

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Ministry of Justice Performance Rating for this prison: 3
This is on a scale from 1 (serious concerns) to 4 (Exceptional) and is worked out by the Ministry of Justice taking into account 34 criteria such as overcrowding, purposeful activities etc. A score of 3 is considered a good performance. Published quarterly.

Average weekly hours of Purposeful Activity: 31.1 (2010)
This figure is supplied by each prison to the Prison Service. Actual hours are usually dependent on activities etc. and should be taken as the maximum time either in workshops or education over a whole week.
Both of these figures are published retrospectively by the MoJ and HMPS and may have changed since the figures were published but they give a simple comparison between prisons.

Annual Budget: £9,300,000 (2011-12)*
Approx cost per prisoner place (2010): £43,208
*The annual budget allocated to the governor covers all major costs of running the prison but excludes most costs related to education and healthcare.

Parliamentary Information
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: John Bercow (Conservative)

Prisoners may write to either their ‘Home MP’ or the MP in whose constituency their current prison lies.
The address to write to is:
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Some more practical details are on their webpage

Story Book Dads/Mums
Story Book Dads/Mums operates at this prison.
The imprisoned parent records a story and a message which is then edited and enhanced using digital audio software and editors remove mistakes and add sound effects and music. Finally a CD is made, a personalised cover created, and the finished disc sent to the child. The whole service is free.

Click Here for more information

Drug Strategy

All prisoners are given an assessment on their initial reception. Identification of need will also come from prisoner's sentence planning and security measures including mandatory drug testing.

Support and advice is provided through CARATs (Counselling, Assessment, Referral, Advice, Throughcare), which is available on induction. This is supported by a voluntary testing programme, which is based on individual prisoner needs determined by individual and frequent assessment.

The intention to abstain from drug misuse is an important pre-requisite for prisoners coming to Grendon and all prisoners make a voluntary compact to remain drug free while they are in therapy. Men go to Grendon to participate in therapy. Drugs provide a way to hide, a crutch to lean on and an escape from the therapeutic process. Anyone taking drugs is unlikely to be successful in therapy. For this reason the drug strategy is pro-active and aimed at both prisoners and visitors and the prison uses all their powers to stop the smuggling in and use of drugs.

Prisoners should not take any opiate-based medication when at Grendon.

Rehabilitation is just the Beginning

Ex prisoner Christopher Elliott explains how he put his offending behind him

During my incarceration between 2000 and 2004 for violent offences, something poignant dawned on me. The first thing was that although I wasn't a part of the criminal lifestyle I still ended up in prison, and, secondly, the road I was on needed changing.

There was something in me that I couldn't control, which was hurting others and myself. I thought back to my abusive childhood and realised I was acting out the pain and suffering someone had bestowed on me - on others. My negative reactions to being hurt and humiliated needed to abruptly stop before I ended up with a Life sentence. I thought, "Why would I do that to myself, let alone to others?"

I couldn't answer that question no matter how long I spent dwelling on it. Would I cut my own finger off? No, I wouldn't. Would I set fire to myself? No, of course not. So why was I ruining my own life?

There had already been too much damage done. Other people were hurt by me, which I couldn't take back. Others hated me, which I couldn't change. Although I had been hurt by others, I had no right to retaliate the way I did. Each person I hurt, to me, was that person from my childhood over and over again - I had become abusive, controlling and angry.

One day in 2001, during 23 hour bang up in HMP Dorchester, I read the book 'Still Me' by the late Christopher Reeve thanks to the prison library. He told his story after being paralysed from the neck down in a horse riding accident. Despite this life altering and devastating injury, Christopher Reeve remained positive and adjusted to life by becoming active in raising awareness and fund raising for spinal cord research. After finishing the book, I closed it and thought, "If people like Christopher Reeve can do well after devastation, what the hell did I have to feel sorry for myself for?" I realised how lucky in life I had actually been in comparison and I knew I wanted to make a positive contribution to society and others lives from then on. I had to create instead of destroy.

I agreed to take part on courses; I read books, took part on education courses and achieved an AS-Level in English Language and Literature as well as completing Creative Writing courses. I taught myself to paint and build objects out of matchsticks. I even tried cross-stitch! I wrote and sent my writing off and achieved publication in national magazines; also becoming the rep' for a prison magazine. By the middle of 2004, I had achieved more than in the years before prison. What I had done was lay the foundation for my post-release life.

The time since I was released on Parole back in 2004 seems to have quickly passed. Has it really been 8 years?! I have remained crime free, am now married with a couple of beautiful kids, live in a stunning seaside apartment, I have gained a BA (Hons) Degree in English Literature and Media Production, and have owned a Porsche. Recently, I bought my first ever suit and will be doing some voluntary work advising a company on their corporate image, marketing material and website. I continue to write.

Although I will never forget the past, I can be proud of what I have done since and so can my family. In fact, my family have invited me and my young family to Christmas this year for the first time in 17 years. Re-building trust is a slow process, but it can be done.

I am grateful for the opportunities I had to help me to change and I only hope the people I hurt years ago have had ten times the success I have had. The prisons' Psychology team helped me and I was open to it. I now know that rehabilitation is just the beginning to a fruitful life for all.
Comments about this article
I can only admire this guy for turning his life around from an early life of childhood abuse and going from there to offending. It is noteworthy that here we have someone who acknowledges that because he was hurt through his life's journey does not justify him causing harm to others and in the process further harm to himself. That he eventually made the right choices which are open to everyone. The past cannot be changed but everyone can become the person they want to be.
5/5/2012 James
Success stories are rare, but when they do crop up have more to say in one sentence than the mad ramblings of someone with a physcopathic personality. Well done Chris.

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