HMP Parc raises standards as first Welsh prison to receive an autism accreditation
HMP Parc originally launched a learning disability pathway in 2012 to improve levels of support for prisoners with autism, and in an aim to reduce violent and unsociable behaviours while improving opportunities for rehabilitation.
Many men go through the criminal justice system without knowing they are autistic, which poses a challenge to those offering support as they can often be hypersensitive to elements around them such as busy environments, sounds, bright lights or smells.
If their disability is not identified, staff members cannot deal with the situation effectively, and the prisoner’s needs may not be met.
Prisoners could potentially fail to comply with their sentence plan due to a lack of understanding of what is expected of them, and in some cases, this can lead to unsociable or violent behaviours, uneasy rehabilitation upon release, or bullying from other prisoners.
During their induction at HMP Parc, prison staff uses the ‘Do It Profiler’ process, which assesses learning difficulty and disability (LDD) needs, looking at aspects such as numeracy, literacy, communication and concentration.
Those who are diagnosed with autism are mentored by other prisoners, to help with induction, but also to facilitate social interactions with other men and members of staff.
A specific unit has been designated for prisoners with learning difficulties, where a variety of resources are available including a range of educational, employment and physical education activities that are tailored to the individual’s needs.
HMP Parc employs learning disability nurses, education teams and two social workers who provide support and information to staff and prisoners as and when needed.
The success of these initiatives has encouraged this prison to expand its learning disability support programme to a wider safeguarding strategy, which will also include sections on personality disorders, palliative care and needs for older prisoners.
Deputy Director at HMP Parc, Ian Coles, said: “We are extremely proud to receive this Autism Accreditation from the NAS.
“Those who are responsible for the prisoners’ care play a fundamental part in ensuring their safety, wellbeing, and successful rehabilitation, and this achievement is a culmination of their ongoing efforts."