Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

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Runes
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Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 53929Post Runes
Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:17 pm

Hi all,

I've just landed by first job in a UK prison and I have no idea what it's like working in a closed institution.

Can anyone give me any advice as to what I should expect from the job, what the staff and prisoners are like towards teaching staff, are there any major benefits and perks of the job, anything really.

Cheers,

Runes.

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54021Post VINNY
Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:50 pm

Runes wrote:Hi all,

I've just landed by first job in a UK prison and I have no idea what it's like working in a closed institution.

Can anyone give me any advice as to what I should expect from the job, what the staff and prisoners are like towards teaching staff, are there any major benefits and perks of the job, anything really.

Cheers,

Runes.

Okay Runes I can see that you have had no replies so far and the coming weeks will be quite daunting for you.... So I will see if I can help you settle in... Firstly it would have been helpful for the establishment type you were posted i.e. Cat B C A male female etc never the less basics are the same where ever you are so this information is for all staff the only difference for teaching staff is that prisoners will try to use you as their personal officer trying to get you to ring different departments to sort their visits / reception items out etc you have to start as you intend to proceed and that is refer them to their personal officer and always be vigilant as they will always try and steal things from the classroom. I will bullet points for you as there is so much to learn in terms of jail craft in the first few months. It is an idea to latch onto an Officer/member of staff who has been there for several years’ preferably over 4 years service. I say this from experience as I think it was not until about 4 years that I really settled in and was confident of my ability in my knowledge and communications skills and more importantly how to get out of sticky situations in terms of de-escalation and how to deal with incidents and different situations. Some prisons assign you a mentor some do not and just throw you in the deep end, if you do get a mentor hopefully he was carefully selected as they can have a great influence on how you develop as an officer over the coming months / years. NEVER be afraid to ask if you are not sure...... infact the more questions you ask the better informed you will be.


Listen to what a prisoner has to say but never believe them check out the information he/she has told you. Indicate that you do believe him/her but always check what they have said

Many prisoners come across very friendly and funny infact you would probably think that you could be friends if he wasn’t in prison. However THINK ! Many prisoners are EXTREMLY adept at conditioning. Always have that in mind and ALWAYS have that line that they cannot cross over familiarity is not a good thing, this is where your experience and the advice of experienced officers will help you.

If you are not sure of an answer to a question that a prisoner asks you then say I DONT KNOW so many waffle on a load of made up BS answers just say "I don’t know I will find out for you" and make sure you get back to them.


Never speak about other staff or operational details outside cell doors you will be surprised what prisoners pick up, just be careful
Stay away from the lunch time boozing Officers these staff are usually (If there is any in the prison service) ;) These staff usually are not bothered about what’s going on the prison and are not a good role model apart from that it is against the code of discipline to drink or be under the influence of alcohol when on duty

If you pardon my cliché 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people.....Just make sure you are in that 20% and you can never attract criticism but you can always deal it out....(when you have a few years under your belt that is)

I could go on and on but finally your biggest asset is your eyes watch and learn all the time ....you will see prisoners running from cell to cell you will get to know just by watching who is dealing and who is under pressure and who they associate with which staff are push overs and which staff are draconian you need to find the middle ground etc. I have given a slightly negative overview of what to look out for but that is the areas that we are more concerned about. However generally 95% of the time you will have no problem and prisoners will do as they are instructed to do ...but you have to adapt to the different types of prisoners and characters and learning styles very quickly some you have to be quite strict and others verging on child like. I have done the Dttls/Pttls courses and worked in a classroom enviroment as an Officer Instructor so I know what they are like.

Opps I missed avery important one out.....If in doubt always say NO to a prisoners request, you can always go back when you know for sure and say okay you go do that now...

Hope this helps a little if you want to get in touch don’t hesitate,



Vinny
Last edited by VINNY on Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Runes
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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54029Post Runes
Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:08 pm

Thanks Vinny, that's exactly what I was after! It's a daunting prospect going from a "normal" classroom to a prison. Without sounding cliched, my only experience of prison is off the TV and I know that life's not like that.

I've resigned myself to a rough time over the next year while I sort out the emotional/academic/social questions that are bound to arise due to the nature of the job.

Are there usually "real" prison officers around while teaching/learning is going on?

Cheers,

Runes

Ps: Cat B, Male prison.

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54033Post Burnlee
Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:14 pm

Mate have a look at the diaries that have been compiled. there are a few and they also include the first year after training. When you leave the school you go LIVE after a week usually of shadowing and yes you will be with REAL Prison Officers in real situations.

Never be afraid to say NO and also to ask questions off your fellow experienced officers. Ther is never a stupid question but a stupid answer

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54045Post Runes
Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:21 am

Hi Burnlee,

Nice one, I'll have a look at the diaries this evening!

Thanks very much,

Runes.

(http://www.prisonofficer.org.uk/viewforum.php?f=16)

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54050Post VINNY
Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:03 pm

Runes wrote:Thanks Vinny, that's exactly what I was after! It's a daunting prospect going from a "normal" classroom to a prison. Without sounding cliched, my only experience of prison is off the TV and I know that life's not like that.

I've resigned myself to a rough time over the next year while I sort out the emotional/academic/social questions that are bound to arise due to the nature of the job.

Are there usually "real" prison officers around while teaching/learning is going on?

Cheers,

Runes

Ps: Cat B, Male prison.

Hi Runes if you mean are there Prison Officers actually there when you are teaching then usually no. However depending on the building you are in and its locality there will be Officers or more likely these days an Officer out side the teaching area but patrolling the building that you are in. If you are in an isolated building with one classroom then there will probably be an officer in the classroom or sat outside as you teach. All these officers will carry radios and will if necessary summon assistance if need be, but usually the sight of a uniform is enough to quiet 99% of unruly behaviour. The most common thing would be a fight between two prisoners and all you do is push the alarm bell and sit back ....do not get involved and wait for the troops to arrive.

You will find it is easier teaching prisoners than teaching teenagers I can assure you !

Vinny

Tine79

Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54256Post Tine79
Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:32 am

I would say (as the previous very good advice does) that for starters never forget that you are there as a teacher and they as a student, by all means engage with them etc but there is a line that should not be crossed however friendly/nice etc they are as once that line is crossed everything can become harder.

On taking my first lesson I also explained what I expected from them and things that I would not tolerate which was received (suprisingly) well.

The only thing you then have to watch out for is for them to start "testing the water" by seeing how far you will let them go, this has happened just the once with me so far and I would not stand for it so I pulled her up in front of the class explained to her why her behaviour was stupid and then told her that she would be on report next time, class then resumed as normal as I don't think they expected me to enforce the rules.

In summary remember teacher/pupil boundaries, set acceptable standards of behaviour, and then enforce it. Easy to say I know but think you can't go to far wrong with that, in fact its not that bad and has already been said its alot easier than teaching senior school kids, anyway good luck hope it is going well.

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54309Post Runes
Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:32 am

Tine79 wrote:I would say (as the previous very good advice does) that for starters never forget that you are there as a teacher and they as a student, by all means engage with them etc but there is a line that should not be crossed however friendly/nice etc they are as once that line is crossed everything can become harder...
Thanks Tine,

This is something that I'm really going to have to concentrate on. in the past I've always used a bit of banter to keep the class together and constructively cooperative but I can see that I'm going to have to change tack a bit as the stakes are that much higher. There are a few things like this that I (and probably everyone else that's new to the job) will never have considered. I guess that only experience will tell.

Runes.

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54310Post Runes
Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:39 am

VINNY wrote:The most common thing would be a fight between two prisoners and all you do is push the alarm bell and sit back ....do not get involved and wait for the troops to arrive.
Blimey, does this happen a lot?!

I'm REALLY looking forward to my start (next week). EVERYTHING'S new exept the subject matter. It's going to be crazy (and a little bit intimidating!).

Runes.

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54312Post Easylife
Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:52 pm

It can be very enjoyable if you have the right sense of humour .
A kite rises higher against the wind,then with it.

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54327Post Runes
Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:23 pm

Easylife wrote:It can be very enjoyable if you have the right sense of humour .
I do hope so, and more rewarding than post-compulsory education. More than anything I want to feel that I'm doing something constructive (although I've been warned about setting my sights too high and expecting 100% success).

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54328Post xHx
Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:51 pm

If you are unsure or suspicious of ANYTHING, report it.

Never trust them however nice they are.

Never be afraid to ask for help, all the officers I have had to request help from have been fantastic.

xx
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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54351Post Easylife
Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:35 am

I was always desperate for hints and tips when I started , I wanted to get ahead of the game ,get settled sooner rather than later . The truth is ,you can't .Its a slow process and takes time.
Even when experienced officers transfer its a steep learning curve and rarely is there an official line on how something is done.
One thing I would suggest .Make sure the detail office deploy you at your place of work as often as possible as it is common ,for example for somebody to be given a particular house block to work on
but they are rarely detailed to actually work on it ,so they end up all over the place. This means that three months down the line ,you have n't got a clue what you are doing on your own house block
and all your colleges including your line think your a clown or a slow starter. Yes it is nice to get a tour of the place but you need to learn your own job first.You will get used and abused by detail when you are new
and it may hinder you development.Some officers never walk a landing and never learn the jail craft.
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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 54354Post unhappyjailer
Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:12 am

Runes,

Keep your eyes and ears open at all times and be aware of your surroundings. Ask lots and lots of questions, some people wont appreciate it but if you dont ask they wont tell.

Dont be afraid to make an idiot of youself by asking a question you think might be stupid. there is no such thing as a stupid question when you are new to this environment.

If unsure of ANYTHING ask before you act, a simple mistake, however well meant, in some establishments can be disastrous.

Report anything you think may be suspicious, it may not be but it may save a life, you wont know that until you report it.

Above all have fun because prisons can be a lot of fun if you approach it in the right manner.

Also remember, your mouth, used wisely it can and will be your most effective management tool, use humour to de escalate any potential conflict, most cons will respond to a bit of light heartedness and give you respect if you show yourself capable of giving it back.

Remember that the people you are there to look after are NOT your friends, be friendly by all means but do not make friends with a con, that way darkness lies. And depending on the type of con you are working with they can be the masters of manipulation and conditioning, some people have the rest of thier lives to get you to do thier bidding you only have one career.

Take care and enjoy it for all it is. Remember that everyone who hits a landing for the first time is a muppet, thats everyone, no exceptions. So although it may appear that people are just getting along with things they have all been in your boat at some point, though some may not remember or admit to it.
I only go home from work so i can experience the sheer joy of returning......

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Re: Hints and tips for a newbie in the HMP world.

Post: # 55335Post spike
Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:24 pm

one thing runes
when you go into your education department make sure you know were your general alarms are and were your education officer is situated

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