The Princess Royal gets a glimpse of life behind bars during a visit to Leyhill Open Prison
THE PRINCESS Royal spent some time on the inside to congratulate staff at Leyhill Open Prison on their innovative rehabilitation work with older inmates.
Princess Anne visited HMP Leyhill in her capacity as patron of the Butler Trust after the charity awarded a commendation to outstanding employee Teri Walker.
The professional coach designed and set up an over-50s resources centre as part of Leyhill’s partnership scheme with RECOOP, an organisation dedicated to the resettlement of older prisoners and ex-offenders.
The Butler Trust promotes excellence in prisons, probation and youth justice work.
During her visit, Her Royal Highness learned about the prison’s collaboration with RECOOP and the specific challenges derived from catering for elderly people in custody. She was also made aware of the difficulties many ex-offenders over 50 face upon release.
Guy Pidduck, acting governor at HMP Leyhill, told The Gazette: "We were delighted with the visit from HRH Princess Anne and very grateful to her for finding the time to see just some of the ways in which we make a significant contribution to offender management and reduce re-offending."
The Princess Royal was later given a tour of the establishment and visited the various departments involved in ensuring offenders' transition back into the community is as safe and successful as possible.
Before bringing her visit to a close, she discussed the complexities of running a high-performing prison with employees and volunteers.
Butler Trust director Simon Shepherd said: "HMP Leyhill has a particularly high proportion of older prisoners among its population, the eldest of whom is in his 80s.
"They present particular challenges as a result of their age, both in terms of their management in prison and their eventual resettlement in the community. Addressing these is of benefit not only to the offenders themselves but also to the establishment as a whole and, in helping to prepare them better for release, to the wider public too."