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Enabling features of Psychologically Informed Planned Environments

Prison stairs
Researchers: Caroline Turley
Published: July 2013

Aim

We were commissioned by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to explore the enabling features of Psychologically Informed Planned Environments (PIPEs) in three pilot sites – two prisons and a probation approved premises (AP).

PIPEs are specifically designed environments where staff have additional training to develop an increased psychological understanding of their work. This enables them to create a supportive environment which can facilitate the development of those living there. PIPEs are not treatment, but are designed to enable offenders to maintain developments they have previously achieved. In prison, PIPEs are progression units for offenders who have completed high intensity treatment. They are applied to existing offender populations in APs.

Findings

  • Establishing and maintaining supportive relationships between staff and offenders were seen as key to PIPE delivery, with offenders highlighting the importance of staff availability and respectful day-to-day interaction. Other key features included taking a more collaborative approach to PIPE management and providing formal support mechanisms for offenders.
  • PIPE staff need to comply with the PIPE way of working, as inconsistent approaches can undermine helpful interaction with offenders.
  • Communication about PIPEs needs to filter through all levels of operation. This helps ensure that the PIPE is supported both by those working within it and throughout the wider establishment/probation area. This is particularly important when non-PIPE staff have the potential to undermine the PIPE ethos. Communication also needs to extend to potential PIPE residents.
  • Having non-PIPE offenders (‘lodgers’) on the unit can undermine the potential impact of the prison PIPE. It may be challenging to create units that are exclusively occupied by PIPE prisoners, but attention needs to be given to the impact that the mix of prisoners has on PIPE delivery.

Methodology

  • A qualitative approach involving in-depth interviews and focus groups with strategic and operational staff, and interviews with offenders living on the PIPE.
  • Video observations to capture PIPE resident and staff interaction.
  • A workshop to report and discuss the research findings, attended by NOMS and NHS stakeholders as well as PIPEs staff.

Read the report