COMMENDEE 2019-20: Dave is the Custodial Manager in HMP Full Sutton’s Close Supervision Centre. Dave is Commended for his work in a unit holding “some of the most difficult, violent and dangerous” men within the prison system. It is clear from a nomination supported by staff and offenders alike that Dave brings exceptional gifts – and outstanding jailcraft skills – to this unusually demanding environment, while consistently and effectively balancing needs and challenges which can change in moments.
[Report based on the original nomination submitted to the Trust]
The Initial nominator is the Head of Full Sutton’s Close Supervision Centre (CSC), Tim Bailey, and also Dave’s line manager. He notes that the nomination, “although written by myself, is from staff and residents at HMP Full Sutton alike.” Tim says that Dave has been in the Prison Service for nearly 24 years, and spent the past 5 years in the CSC as the Custodial Manager, and is “what I describe as the founder member. He was instrumental in forming a joint working partnership with the Prison Service and the NHS, and comes to work every day in order to make the place better.” Tim calls Dave “an excellent manager” and “all round ‘good egg’ who is well respected by everyone.” He adds that Dave “has the perfect blend of managing the team to award-winning status and standard, but also has the ability to understand and show humanity and humility to those around him.” He adds that:
“Because of Dave’s natural caring style and empathy, he quickly de-escalates potential volatile situations by understanding triggers and getting the individuals to calm down and support them in making better choices. Being a manager of a CSC cannot really be described as an ordinary job as it is not at all like a normal prison role. The role he holds is an extraordinary one and Dave does this extraordinarily well. This nomination is not for a single act of valour for is instead for making a difference every day.”
Butler Trust Local Champion and People Hub Manager, Paula Broomfield, praises “the extraordinary work David Wood completes in his role as Manager of the CSC Unit which is executed to an excellent standard”, adding that “ensuring a safe and enabling environment is maintained for both staff and the men in our care is the mainstay of his work ethic, resulting in positive outcomes which have been praised and recognised nationally.”
Paula gives some background on working on the unit:
“The staff on the CSC unit will tell you that one minute you can be working on a creative project and the next minute preventing a potentially serious act of violence. Dave has the ability to move seamlessly from one to another, choosing to persevere in the face of difficulty and find a way forward with even the most disordered, violent and challenging prisoners. This is clear testament to the resilience shown by Dave. Dave’s kindness and enthusiasm to support those in crisis, and the outstanding contributions he makes by being a positive role model for all staff, makes him a great ambassador for the Prison Service. He is the unsung hero of the CSC…”
She further notes that “Dave has the ability to get people back on the correct pathway. Most of the residents at some time or another have issues and waver from the course of progression and Dave is always there to navigate them. If you were asked to imagine how the CSC would look and operate 5 years ago you could only dream about the achievements that have taken place under Dave’s command. He continues to drive change and improvement.” The CSC also has an award-winning horticultural area “created from an early vision but which had countless resistance and hurdles along the way. Dave has also guided staff on achieving the Enabling Environment status from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a first for any CSC in the country.”
Paula goes on to describe Dave as “passionate and committed to promoting a positive environment” and calls him “a tremendous asset to the service.” She adds that “Dave has the ability to get people back on the correct pathway. Most of the residents at some time or another have issues and waver from the course of progression but Dave is always there to navigate them. In addition to exemplary service in Dave’s working life, he also reflects the values of the Service and represents those impressively outside the prison. He epitomises all that is good about HMPPS.”
A former resident of the CSC adds a moving testimonial that gives a flavour of the impact of Dave’s work, quoted here in full:
“Mr Wood gives you the opportunity and information to achieve, he shows you the boundaries and the constraints and explains it’s only you holding back. I was at first sceptical of Mr Wood when he wanted to discuss my future; I was an enhanced prisoner, who followed the rules within the unit [CSC] and was doing OK in my opinion. However Mr Wood said that’s not enough and wanted more from me; he wanted me to have aspirations.
I was de-selected from the CSC over a year ago exactly as Mr Wood said I would be, he was always open and honest with me. I think I’m a success story for Mr Wood. I still see him in the prison when I’m going to work or completing my volunteering roles such as carer for another prisoner, foreign national representative and prison councillor. I could not have dreamed of having these trusted positions without the help and support of Mr Wood.
Mr Wood makes time for us all, even though I’m not on the unit anymore he still shows his interest in my life; he can chat about anything from football to family with me. He is not just a member of staff in authority; he is much more, he is someone who cares.
I wish I had met Mr Wood a lot earlier in my prison sentence!”
A colleague in the CSC adds these words: “Dave is always there for people, he has no special cases and treats everyone in his care with humanity. He has dealt with some of the most difficult, violent and dangerous men within the prison system, but always does so through positive relationships and clearly explains the consequences of actions. I am proud to have Dave as my line manager; he inspires me to be the best I can be in order to help those around me. Dave does a good job each day, he is the unsung hero of the CSC, he never boasts about his work. Dave has guided the team over the years to win countless awards and be recognised as an excellent unit however he never wants to take the credit himself.”
The colleague says the CSC “is a settled environment which is not down to good luck, it’s the way Dave leads the team. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific example of his good work as he is good all the time however a specific resident came to the unit who was a prolific self-harmer; numerous times a day. Dave worked with him over several months and he had his most settled period where he stopped harming himself. This may seem like a small event to some however if you knew this resident it was massive. Dave has the ability to get people back on the correct pathway, most of the residents at some time or another have issues and waver from the course of progression but Dave is always there to navigate them.”
The Governing Governor at Full Sutton, Gareth Sands calls David “a highly professional colleague who has made a significant difference to the safety, security and smooth running of the CSC which holds damaged, dangerous and complex individuals.”
Quite how damaged, dangerous, and complex the men in the CSC are is revealed by Dave, who explains it is “a small unit with personality disordered offenders who have committed acts of serious violence in a custodial setting. Close supervision centres house 52 men at this current time. These men are deemed to be the most difficult to manage in a system housing 83,000 men.”
Dave says the work “starts by trying to build trusting relationships with men who often have had traumatic backgrounds to their lives and have given up any hope of breaking the cycle or changing. We try to instil hope in every man that comes through our door – the reward is, and always has been to see men who are resistant to change or who have been unsuccessful at managing change to be able to reduce their risk and be able to re-integrate with the main population.”
Dave concludes by describing the unit’s pride:
“The work is not consistently rewarding – we as a team get frequently set back and can’t always help every man who comes to us – but we are proud to say that we always try and offer some of the most innovative methods that are possible in a high security environment.”
With thanks to HMP Full Sutton, especially initial nominator and Initial nominator and Head of its Close Supervision Centre Tim Bailey, Butler Trust Local Champion and People Hub Manager Paula Broomfield, to colleagues and offenders, and to Governing Governor Gareth Sands, for their contributions.