Network major success for LGBT+ voice in UK prison service — CEO of HMPPS responds to Network representation

The LGBT+ Network for Change (the Network) has achieved a major breakthrough with its LGBT & LGBTQ+ support work with HMPPS (the UK Prison & Probation Service) further to it’s 1.5 years detailed support across healthcare to staff engagement and education at Portland Prison.

Network Lead, Alan Mercel-Sanca, having had substantial engagement with HMP & YOI Portland, at the request of the former Quality Assurance lead of the HMPPS Avon & South Dorset Prisons Group) had undertaken extensive liaison at the prison across much of the period, culminating with a strategic service providers and prison staff meeting at the prison in early May 2021.

Resources to support a culture change on LGBT support needs had been produced by Alan as a result of learning of all of the factors that were holding the prison back on LGBT support, and their deployment has now been secured due to the intervention of the Head/CEO of HMPPS, Dr Jo Farrar:

Dr Farrar has written to the Network confirming understanding of the major issues that had been blocking badly needed improvement, and a ‘change of culture’ at the prison where LGBT engagement and support was concerned. Consequently actions as a result of the Network engagement and concerns highlighted by the Network at the prison. This enabling major improvement at strategic and on the ground/operational level, with a meeting to take place end of January/first week of February 2022 with the Prison Governor, members of the Board of Governors, Equality Lead and other key prison staff, to start progressive implementation and utilisation of the resources developed by Alan/the Network.

Many aspects of the new stage of HMP & YOI Portland relationship are intended to see the prison as a pilot for other HMPPS institutions across the country facing similar challenges due to engrained cultures that are not comfortable with meaningful change and equality on LGBT & LGBTQ+ duty of care, mental health, and inclusion across many domains of prison & YOI institutional services and life.

The Network is delighted to be playing such a clear and effective role in an area of great importance for meaningful support on implementation of LGBT human rights, safety, and dignity, and salutes the CEO of HMPPS for her direct support for change, and similarly Portland Prison).