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Custodial care

Prison officer, specialist support staff and operational support staff are three types of roles available in the custodial setting.

Prison Officers are called upon to build up and maintain close relationships with those in their charge. Prison Officers are expected to undertake varied duties and tasks, such as:

  • Carrying out security checks and searching procedures
  • Supervising prisoners, keeping account of prisoners in your charge and maintaining order
  • Employing authorised physical control and restraint procedures where appropriate
  • Taking care of prisoners and their property, taking account of their rights and dignity.
  • Providing appropriate care and support for prisoners at risk of self harm
  • Promoting Anti-Bullying and suicide prevention policies
  • Taking an active part in rehabilitation programmes for prisoners
  • Assessing and advising prisoners, using your own experiences and integrity
  • Writing fair and perceptive reports on prisoners.

With around two years' experience, you could progress to senior prison officer (this is decided by application, examination and interview). You could then go on to gain promotion through the governor grades. In the HM Prison Service there is an Intensive Development Scheme for graduates (NOMS Graduate programme), which offers early progression to senior grades.

Once appointed there are opportunities to move into more specialist roles such as physical educational instructor or dog handler.

Specialist prison service staff roles include:

  • Instructional Officers
  • Health Care roles
  • Chaplaincy roles
  • Psychologists and Psychological assistants
  • Catering
  • Construction and technical training
  • ICT
  • Administration
  • Physical Education roles.

Many of these staff are required to have a qualification / training in their vocational area before entering the prison service. There are pathways to enter into junior / trainee roles and progress upwards to more senior and managerial roles.

Operational support roles include:

  • Patrolling
  • Ground staff
  • Store duties
  • Drivers and navigators
  • Switchboard staff
  • Canteen staff.

Source: Skills for Justice LMI March 2010