Leaders provide the direction, encouragement and resources to enable good outcomes for women in prison.

(For a definition of leaders, see Appendix I, note iii.)

1. Direction: Leaders work collaboratively with staff, stakeholders and women to set and communicate strategic priorities that will improve outcomes for women in prison.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Leaders and staff understand the prison’s strengths and weaknesses and where outcomes need to improve.
  • Leaders have a good understanding of the experiences of women and staff in the prison.
  • Leaders communicate a shared and ambitious vision for the prison.
  • Realistic, aspirational plans are in place to improve outcomes for women.
  • Staff understand and share the aims and priorities of the prison.
  • Leaders develop successful working relationships with key partners and stakeholders to deliver the prison’s aims.

2. Engagement: Leaders create a culture in which staff and other stakeholders willingly engage in activities to improve outcomes for women in prison.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Leaders at every level are visible and approachable.
  • Leaders take time to listen to staff and women and follow up issues raised.
  • Effective communication is used to promote understanding of current priorities, information sharing, collaboration and multidisciplinary working.
  • Leaders set, model and enforce standards of staff behaviour and care for women that support rehabilitation.
  • Leaders actively promote the well-being of staff.
  • Staff feel motivated and supported in their work.
  • Leaders show and encourage innovation and creativity to solve problems and meet the needs of women.
  • Effective practice is recognised and shared.
  • The organisational culture encourages staff to reflect on and learn from their mistakes.

3. Enabling: Leaders provide the necessary resources to enable good outcomes for women in prison.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Staffing levels are sufficient to deliver the aims of the prison.
  • Staff have the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to meet the needs of women.
  • Leaders make good use of the staff and buildings at their disposal.
  • Leaders identify resource constraints and seek to resolve them.
  • The senior management team has the experience and skills necessary to improve outcomes for women.
  • Line managers support their staff, challenge where necessary and provide suitable professional development opportunities.
  • ICT systems support effective working practices.

4. Continuous improvement: Leaders focus on delivering priorities that support good outcomes for women in prison. They closely monitor progress against these priorities.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it:

  • Data is used effectively to understand the impact and fairness of policies, and to track progress against improvement plans.
  • Feedback from women, staff and other stakeholders is used to generate ideas, create plans and measure progress.
  • Decisions are made and plans are amended in response to new information.
  • Leaders welcome and encourage external scrutiny.
  • Inspection recommendations, audit findings, serious incident reports and best practice ideas are used to generate improvement.
  • Leaders use quality assurance processes to drive continuous improvement.
  • Collaboration with policy teams and colleagues in other prisons or partner organisations supports improvement.

Human rights standards

In relation to expectations 1–4, human rights standards emphasise that prisons should be managed within a context which recognises the obligation to treat all women in prison with humanity and which facilitates the reintegration of women into the wider community. They recognise the important role of staff in rehabilitation, the need for a clear sense of purpose in the prison system and the importance of leadership in how that purpose is best achieved. Prisons must be adequately staffed to ensure a safe environment and staff should receive ongoing training, including to undertake specialist roles and work with particular groups of women. Arrangements should be in place to ensure good communication and coordination both within and outside of the prison and the involvement of voluntary organisations should be encouraged. See EPR 6, 8, 72–87, 89–91, 93; SMR 1, 3, 74–80, 83; BR 1, 29, 33, 35.