Melissa Spence, PBNI Prisons Manager, talking about how her team is delivering essential services during COVID 19

Probation during Covid: Prison Manager Catherine Gregg on delivering rehabilitation & resettlement services

Probation Board for Northern Ireland Prison Manager Catherine Gregg talks about how Probation work continues during COVID-19 to deliver rehabilitation & resettlement services along with partners.

Hi my name is Catherine Gregg, and I am an area manager currently based at Magilligan prison.

Before Covid 19, my daily work day included going to Magilligan every day with the rest of my team.

The probation team in Magilligan works within a multi-agency setting, so we work alongside our partner agencies who include NIACRO, ADEPT, Barnardo’s and of course the prison service itself.

Therefore, normally we would work with maybe 50 other people alongside interacting and engaging with 450 plus prisoners in Magilligan.

In comparison to the last 6 weeks my daily working day has involved being in my house on my own with my laptop and my work mobile.

Managing a prison team from outside a prison is very challenging, however we have very quickly adjusted to a new world of increased emails and phone calls and we are also utilising the use of web chat and trying to interact as best as we can.

Obviously we still have a role to our clients and the wider public in relation to public protection.

Prior to leaving the prison PBNI were increasing our partnership with the prison service by trying to jointly manage and work together to best manage the risk and also support the prisoners in line with the 2018 resettlement inspection.

We continue to do this albeit we now just do it a slightly different way from outside the prison.

I continue to have daily interactions with the prison service through emails and phone calls and recently we have also commenced multi-agency meetings with the use of web chat which enables ourselves, the prison service and our partner agencies to come together to consider individual cases on how best to progress them despite the current circumstances.

Communication has been vital throughout this change and whilst we obviously look forward to getting back to a little normality with the workplace, in the meantime between ourselves and our partner agencies we continue to work the best we can to ensure service delivery both for our service users and the wider public.