HMP Grendon is an unusual prison. It was described by HMIP as follows:
Opened in 1962, Grendon adopted a model for addressing offending behaviour and psychological, problems based on a psychiatric tradition that grew out of attempts to treat what is now called posttraumatic stress. Fifty years on, the prison treats prisoners with complex needs, particularly those with antisocial personality disorders.
There were five separate therapeutic communities – A, B,C,D, and G wings – housing approximately 40 men each and an induction and assessment unit – F Wing – holding up to 25 prisoners. A Wing was predominantly for sex offenders. There was an ongoing programme to reconfigure the wings: B Wing therapeutic community was in the process of being closed, while the therapeutic community on G Wing was due to move to B Wing; a new induction unit was planned on G Wing, which included an enhanced assessment process for prisoners needing additional support to cope with the ethos at Grendon; and F wing was identified as a therapeutic community for men with learning difficulties.
Each therapeutic community had its own constitution and a prisoner chairman and vice chair. A democratic process was in place where staff and prisoners elected prisoners into these roles, and regulated behaviour standards. This included imposing sanctions where rules had been broken, implementing processes for selecting and deselecting prisoners for a place in the community, anddiscussing and resolving incidences of conflict or disagreement. With the backing of his small therapy group, a prisoner could initiate a discussion and a vote about any aspect of community life. This process had the potential to motivate prisoners to surrender their individual rights in the interests of peaceful community living. Prisoners were also expected to have a small job that supported the community.
Each therapeutic community also had a range of specialist staff including therapists, trained specialist officers and offender supervisors. The therapeutic communities were accredited by the Correctional Services Accreditation and Advisory Panel. Their standards and performance were monitored by the Community of Communities (a quality improvement and accreditation programme for therapeutic communities) and they received annual assessments, which led to action plans and service improvements. End of therapy reports were required for all prisoners leaving therapy.