Update on Network Portland Prison LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ initiative and related HMPPS engagement

The LGBT+ Network for change is providing three important updates in regard to our engagement up to HMPPS CEO, Avon & South Dorset HMPPS prisons group, and especially the LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ community proactively supportive vanguard for change & improvement governor and relevant operational lead officers at HMP & YOI Portland.  …

Firstly: the Prison’s LGBT+ Steering Group, where Network engagement with HMP & YOI Portland a year ago provided the catalyst for creation of the group, set against the 2021 action by the Network in communicating with the CEO of HMPPS, is now approaching one year of existence.  Across this year where the Network is the key, external LGBT community independent partner, has witnessed at detailed on the ground level multiple actions of the most transformational kind in changing the internal ‘culture’ of this HMPPS prison concerning safety, inclusion, safeguarding for LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ community members (both prisoners and staff.  

Secondly: relating at detailed operational delivery level of a number of key areas of the Steering Group, we have found our thematic, prison service audiences information resource implemented extensively with transformational breakthroughs and success.  This has been because many aspects of that resource linked to key activity areas on LGBTQ+ inclusion, welfare, and safety in different domains of the internal and external agencies and sections, active in this area.  The information resource had an accompanying strategic component whose purpose was to link all of the latter up to the fullest extent (the creation of the steering group being the ultimate implementation of this joined up, properly coordinated approach), and in some cases advise new initiatives that had not previously existed within HMPPS in this important EDI and safety and safeguarding field.

Thirdly: we have been Proud to be supporting an Out Trans community member at the prison for several months, in extensive ways, and similarly Portland Prison’s brilliant LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ supportive (through our collaboration) ‘vanguard’ relevant leaders at multiple prison service team, who have provided incredible support to this very courageous LGBT/Trans community member, who has been directly contributing to the prison’s experience and processes base in conjunction with support from the Network, to make Portland Prison a trailblazing HMPPS institute where coming Out as Trans is concerned.  The case illustrated however that even HMPPS has limits to its effectiveness and authority in supporting such courageous LGBT+ community members, and that it has dependence on external state agencies and public service organisations in their level of competence on LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ community members engagement at grassroots level. Intra-organisational effective collaboration and communication, with participation/witness function support and guidance by direct LGBT+ organisations such as the Network being indispensable for success. More details on this soon.

We will in the coming weeks provide further updates, including a communication to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice on the achievements made and learning from the Network – Portland Prison initiative for national level HMPPS and across UK Government departments, Prison Service related trades unions and the General Secretary of the TUC, and to national agencies and private sector and voluntary sector, guidance.