There are of course unique challenges in providing maintenance services in a prison setting, and for Bailey and his team this means going through a series of rigorous security checks to both enter the prison and move around its environs’.
He explains: “To work in this establishment, you’ve not only got to be security vetted, but you also need the right behavioural skills to operate safely. Staff undergo specific training on working in a prison to ensure both their own and inmates’ safety in what can be, at times, a dynamic and interesting environment.
“We need to know that the teams we are employing have the right skills and awareness to do this job safely. Part of the training is to meet health, safety and security requirements but training is also required to undertake responsibilities such as door and lock usage, and how to move around a prison in a way that will maintain security standards and support the establishment rather than work against them.”
The FM team is also in charge of ensuring contractors are chaperoned around the site by trained escorts. Amey need to ensure their supply chain are not compromising security or creating risks.
Working around prisoners sounds like a daunting task, but according to Bailey: “Our relationship with the prisoners is good –we’re responsive and when they see us coming onto a wing they know we’re there to help them; prisoners are naturally curious and often want to talk and find out what is happening on their wing.”
He adds: “My main relationship though is with the Governor and the prison authorities whose job is to make sure we’re delivering our contract. Regular meetings, audits and conversations highlight issues with the facility or with delivery of specific items of work but the meetings develop openness which ultimately allows the performance to improve and support the operational output.”
However, seeing the maintenance team at work does perk prisoner’s interests. In fact at the Onley site, a prisoner was given the opportunity to work alongside the Amey facilities management team as part of the their ‘Passport into Employment’ programme which gives individuals the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience and employment support to improve employability and reduced re-offending in the last year of their sentence. He was later, in liaison with the Prison, offered the opportunity to join the team full-time upon release and now successfully works as a member of the team playing his full part in delivery of the operation.
Bailey also explains how Amey works with current inmates to support the operation across a number of workstreams. “The prisoners often ask the staff about the maintenance jobs,” says Bailey. “It depends on their skills and attitude but working with the prison learning and development team we provide placements, undertaking decoration as part of our unique CRED offering (Clean, Rehabilitative, Enabling and Decent), stores management, grounds maintenance and on some sites supporting technical staff in delivery of maintenance.
The HMP Onley team’s role is going to get bigger as it’s been announced that three new 60-bed houseblocks will be built on the site and the former Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre is set to reopen as an extension of Onley which together will create an additional 311 new prison places on the site.
“The most significant change in the future though is to how we operate, the size and skills of the site delivery team is crucial to operations and as you are only as good as your team, I’ll be looking to upskill and develop my colleagues along the way.”
Bailey concludes by saying: “I believe that HMP Onley is a more effective prison with Amey delivering facilities services. Our focus on delivery of compliance is the key factor in this and has allowed us to deliver a safe facility to the Governor which in turn supports the rehabilitative training needed to help residents end their sentence and hopefully become productive and integrated members of society.”