On the 5th November this year, the FCRG organised a trip for 3rd year undergraduate students (who study ‘Psychology with Forensic Psychology’) to visit HMP Whatton. This was followed by a trip with the MSc Forensic Psychology students on the 17th November.

On both days, the Whatton staff gave up their time to talk to the students about what they do at Whatton in terms of treatment for sex offenders. In addition, two inmates kindly provided time to talk to the students, giving first-hand insights into the benefits of the programmes they had completed. One of the 3rd year students (Ryan Hesp) has written a piece about the trip, which nicely sums up the day. See below

Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Whatton Undergraduate Visit by Ryan Hesp
HMP Whatton is a Category C prison which holds adults male sex offenders, and one of the largest treatment-focused prison establishments for sex offenders in Europe. Whatton provides a series of learning and skills-based activities, including education, vocational training, industrial workshops and manufacturing, and gardening. There are also a large range of treatment programmes targeting offending and offence-related behaviours, including SOTP (Sex Offender Treatment Programme), the Enhanced Thinking Skills training, and CALM (Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it). The prison also runs a Listener Scheme, providing a peer-support system for those who wish to talk to someone and/or are considered to be at risk of suicide or self-harm.

The aims of our undergraduate trip was to: 1) get a feel for a prison setting, as a potential future employment setting. 2) Learn about some of the treatment programmes provided within a prison environment, and the challenges of delivering it. We can honestly say what an informative visit it was!

As we arrived, we realised the level of security; much to our amusement, our school representative was not allowed to enter the premises as he forgot his ID. Once all security procedures were in place, we began our journey into the prison. We were escorted to the Visitors’ Centre where we met a number of staff responsible for the treatment and rehabilitation of the prisoners. After introductions and some background information, we were able to ask questions, on prison and prison life.

We were then familiarized with some of the many treatment programmes and rehabilitation schemes within HMP Whatton. We were given informative visitor booklets for our notes and able to ask questions relating to the programme content. The staff provided a wealth of information, from both personal experience and about current literature; it was a great experience for us psychology students to see the real-life application of psychological knowledge in an applied setting.

Three prisoners that are part of peer mentor scheme then came and spoke to us, giving us another angle on the treatment programmes, from a prisoner’s point of view. Their personal accounts reinforced the applicability and usefulness of the treatment programmes for individual change and growth. Again, we were able to ask many, sometimes difficult questions, about life in prison. Once we got all our questions and comments out of the way, we were itching to begin the prison tour; we were lucky to see the group treatment rooms, the prisoners-run textile factory and one of the inmates’ wings, as well as sneak peeks of inmate cells, dining rooms, gardens, football pitches, common rooms and the Psychology and Rehabilitation offices.

All of us were inspired by the enthusiastic staff. Their willingness to talk to us, share their personal experiences, and their outstanding commitment to the prison system communicated a real sense of passion for their jobs! Questions again helped us (as soon to be graduates) to explore the diverse range of jobs, routes and employability options within HMP Whatton and alike systems.

To all the Staff at HMP Whatton: Thank You for your help, guidance and insightful tour! We would also like to thank the College, School and Hannah for organizing the trip, as well as Lynsey and Amanda for accompanying us. One day we may be back, as psych assistants, treatment facilitators, or in other similar jobs…