The High Sheriff of Shropshire

The High Sheriff of Shropshire

High Sheriff Badge

Wednesday, 1st October. Visit to Stoke Heath Prison

HM Prison Stoke Heath is a male adult Catagory C prison and Young Offenders Institution, located in the village of Stoke Heath (near Market Drayton) in Shropshire. It is operated by HM Prison Service. It was built in 1964 as a Category C prison for adult males. It was converted to a Borstal 2 years later and up till 2011 was used to hold Young Offenders. The prison now houses prisoners over the age of 18yrs. Because of this, education and truing for inmates is the main focus of the prison. A variety of courses and vocational training placements are offered, most of which can lead to NVQ qualifications in related fields. In addition the prisons gym and sports field offer various physical education courses, as well as being available for recreational use. The prison also has a multi-faith chaplaincy.

The High Sheriff and his wife were welcomed to the Prison by the Governing Governor, Mr John Huntington who gave him an over view of the challenges as well as achievements of running the prison. We were then given a guided tour by Steve Homes, the Custodial Manager who is also in charge of finding businesses and Communities to hopefully engage with the prison and the inmates for when they are eventually discharged back into the community. Being a C and D Category prison, inmates are being given education and experiencing work discipline in preparation for eventual release.

Despite being in a prison there was an atmosphere of bright, airiness, reminiscent of an educational campus. We saw the kitchens where prisoners can opt to train as coffee bar staff, waitering etc. We saw groups learning how to use industrial cleaning machines where they could obtain a certificate of competency for future employment. There were immensely impressive manufacturing workshops designed to enable prisoners to learn how to handle complicated machines in a variety of engineering skills. The prison encourages dealings  with outside companies in order to make good use of these sophisticated machines as well as to enable the prisoners to earn some money legitimately.

There is great emphasis on offering inmates as much education as possible before they are released. A statistic given to us by Mr Huntington was that before, 80{9d575b0d2b9f93e1b2c508b6230ba5fded112c87afe25a7f48110155290734ef} of offenders would reoffend within 2yrs of release, whereas with the new approach to rehabilitation, that figure has been reduced to 30{9d575b0d2b9f93e1b2c508b6230ba5fded112c87afe25a7f48110155290734ef}. That is an enormously encouraging figure!

There is an HMP and YOI Stoke Heath Employment Careers Fair being held at Stoke Heath Prison on 23rd October. This is to enable prisoners to meet employers directly who can help provide information about different industries and the essential skills needed to gain employment on release. Employers can also benefit from not only showcasing their businesses but also offering their support and advice for trainees in residence. Exhibitors can benefit from seeing first-hand the type of trainees as well as finding out more about the training programme run by HMP & YOI Stoke Heath. For anyone interested do contact Gillian Lamond, HMP/YOI National Careers Serviceat:   Gillian.Lamond@hmps.gsi.gov.uk  They would be very glad to hear from you!