HM Prison Featherstone is a Category C men’s prison, located in the village of Featherstone in Staffordshire, England. The prison is operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Annabel and I were given an introduction to the prison and its challenges by Governor Babafemi Dada, the first black prison governor in the UK, and then given a tour by Jenny Steel.
The prison service faces some real challenges with budget, (and the consequent staffing issues), cuts and ever-changing drugs. Drugs like Spice cause enormous problems, highly addictive they can be impregnated into paper, making it incredibly difficult to keep them out of prisons. Addiction and debt are the catalyst for many problems.
HMP Featherstone has an amazing range of training and manufacturing facilities. They make steel chairs, prison T shirts, have a printing press and teach decorating and joinery to the inmates.
Over the past few years Railtrack have been very active in supporting ex-offenders by giving them work maintaining track (I think one of the senior management team had a spell in prison as a young man and wants to help get offenders into work).The Dana Prison in Shrewsbury, now closed, has a couple of rail tracks which were used to train inmates – they sit unused in the prison yard. HMP Featherstone would like to continue to offer this training but the developers of the Dana Prison – the Osborne Group – are not responding to overtures to donate them to Featherstone. What a shame. I said I would try and help and I am hoping that Andrew Ryan, of the Osborne Group will respond to my emails one of these days.