Why I Left The Prison Service

high profile stories and issues for Prison Officers

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londonlad81
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Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by londonlad81 » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:28 am

I was talking to someone recently who applied to be a Prison Officer. They asked why I left ( to be fair it was a few years ago) so I gave them a brief description. This is why I left a job I was looking forward to doing. I will add that I haven’t posted on this site for some time but advised them to check it out.
Anyway, week one in establishment pretty normal. First time in a prison so everything was quite exciting, doing a tour of the place and meeting some of the staff. Everything seemed fairly calm, didn’t see any alarms, atleast whilst on the wings. The rest was doing admin, getting PNomis logins etc.
Then went to college, week 2 until week 7. Had a great time at Newbold, met some great people and great trainers. It was honestly one of the best times I’ve had on a training course, including me doing 6 years in the Forces.After graduating on the Friday, got a call from the admin team to be back for Monday for week 8 ( the last training week). Ok great I thought.
So Monday comes and me and another guy report back to the admin team. Get told where we’re working so off we go to the wings. And that’s really where my training ended. Due to staff shortages, I wasn’t shadowing like I expected too and I wasn’t assigned a mentor. It was now sink or swim.
Get put straight into induction wing. This is a cat C so all the prisoners are already sentenced. We had prisoners transferred in and out on a weekly basis. This was always stressful. A typical transfer day was , ok we have 15 prisoners coming today, find them cells to go into. Some prisoners refused to leave the wing, which meant you had to nick them. That was all well and good, but didn’t help with making space. Would spend ages trying to reason with them often when it was lunch hour and in your own time, your lunch hour was now shorter. Then after lunch is was a case of telling the SO/ res manager that certain prisoners had refused to leave the wing. But we had new prisoners coming so we had to get on with it. By now my colleagues from this morning have left due to them being on an early shift or sent somewhere else to work, again due to staff shortages. Then it was a case of trying to find enough cells and bedding (and TVs )for the new arrivals, and also take into account their cell share risk assessments.
Now remember all this as a newbie officer.
Then of course the typical working day. Unlock with 3 staff, but as soon as this happened we were down to 2 staff, one being sent to education for the morning. So after exercise it was a case of unlocking for education or work. Some prisoners would say they should be on the list when they weren’t and some would be on the list and refuse to go. You then had to try and establish who was meant to be where but the movements Officer now needed everyone to hurry up. At the same time prisoners would be ringing the bells for meds, or generally being a pain in the bum.
After this chaos it was seeing to cell bells and doing AFCs with two staff. Now one staff member had to give exercise to people on violence reduction, because they couldn’t exercise with the other prisoners. Now bear in mind there could be two or three, so that officer would be stood in the cold for ages, while the other officer would be on there own on the wing.Still cell bells are going off, probation staff came into the wing asking to speak to their prisoners and ACCTs needed to be checked.
So two staff on the wing were expected to do exercise for violent prisoners, do AFCs, check ACCTs, update CNomis, pay prisoners using NoMis, complete nicking forms and get the cleaners to do their jobs properly whilst unlocking and locking doors constantly for them to do their job.
And obviously do use of force forms whilst in your own time. If all this wasn’t done management would be on you’re back as to why it wasn’t done.
After a relatively short period of time I could no longer cope with what was expected so left. A job that took a while to get into, a job I wanted. Training college hadn't prepared me for this.
Now this was my personal experience, it does vary from prison to prison, but I’d be interested if anyone else had a similar start.
This particular establishment had a problem with retention so we couldn’t all be wrong surely. I’m sure some people go to well run nicks and get looked after but this was my personal experience.

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Bearguy
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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by Bearguy » Tue Nov 19, 2019 2:18 am

Sounds like a damn shame and failings all over the place !

Not fancy doing it again at a different establishment ?

Looking at your name, does it suggest that you were based in the capital ?

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northorsouth
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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by northorsouth » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:51 pm

This is quite a sad story and disappointing to read after the initial experience I’ve had, I’ve heard stories similar at my prison but it seems they’ve turned a corner now and it’s far from how yours sounds
Applied 09/08/19
Online tests 11/08/19
Results 12/08/19
Arc Manchester 05/09/19
Officially passed arc 06/09/19
Initial offer 17/09/19
Vetting begun 18/09/19
The call 08/10/19
Start 11/11/19

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falkor
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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by falkor » Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:09 pm

thanks for sharing your experience londonlad81
A job that took a while to get into, a job I wanted. Training college hadn't prepared me for this
yeah quite a shock I should think , what a nightmare

londonlad81
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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by londonlad81 » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:21 pm

Yes I was in the capital, although I won’t mention where for personal security reasons. I probably joined at the wrong time and wrong place! It’s only being in the last two years that the government have woke up to smell the coffee, although I think they had little choice!
My experience was my personal one, I’m not suggesting that this was the norm.
I think maybe if had a bit more support I could have made a good go if it.
I know I wouldn’t work at my last establishment for all the money in the world! It got to the point that I actually felt sick and anxious about going in!

londonlad81
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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by londonlad81 » Mon Dec 30, 2019 10:51 pm

So with what I’ve said in this thread, I’m considering re applying. I won’t apply to the same establishment, I’ve moved area anyway. I’m thinking that HMPS May have improved now and sorted it out staff shortages.
Apparently the entrance tests have changed now to judgement tests, any advice on them? I hated doing the online tests before! I’ve read if you fail you have to wait 6 months before you can re apply again.

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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by Bearguy » Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:01 pm

Good to hear you are reconsidering !

The online judgement tests give you a scenario, and gives you a list of possible actions in relation to that, asking which you would most likely choose and least likely, quite straightforward and common sense for many.

Also, worth a note is the new entry tests where you have to download an app and carry out a series of tasks, which measure cognitive responses, reaction times, risk/reward scenario. It’s like a game, but can get intense at times, just make sure you have plenty of time and somewhere quiet to go where you can concentrate.

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northorsouth
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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by northorsouth » Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:17 am

Londonlad, it’s taken me some time to catch up and get to your post with lots of things going on and new posts popping up all the time

It’s very saddening to read your first post about how wrong things were and that bad that you chose to leave. In the time I’ve spent in my prison I’ve heard lots of similar stores and some worse than yours from a variety of long and short term staff, POA reps and other people we’ve chatted to. They do now say that, although there’s still many issues to be resolved, the prison service has turned a corner now and it’s back on the up.

As Bearguy said, if you were going to reapply there is a range of online stuff to do that needs to be passed before they’ll offer an ARC date to you. The biggest chunk of this is a game style assessment that generates a report about you afterwards. If you decide to go for it my biggest piece of advice is similar to bearguy...find somewhere quiet you won’t be disturbed, have enough time to get through it and allow double what it says, lastly, be persistent with it and don’t take the options to end tasks early!

Hope that helps a bit

NOS :slre:
Applied 09/08/19
Online tests 11/08/19
Results 12/08/19
Arc Manchester 05/09/19
Officially passed arc 06/09/19
Initial offer 17/09/19
Vetting begun 18/09/19
The call 08/10/19
Start 11/11/19

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Bearguy
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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by Bearguy » Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:50 am

Well said NOS, that new game thing can be very testing !!!!!

londonlad81
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Re: Why I Left The Prison Service

Post by londonlad81 » Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:28 pm

Many thanks for your replies guys. I actually applied online and my laptop froze during the test which meant I missed some questions which meant I automatically failed the first online test. The recruiting people emailed me back saying unfortunately there is nothing they can do, other than wait six months to re- apply! Unlike previously, you cannot apply under a different email address as the system automatically knows you’ve just applied ( maybe by your National Insurance number?).
So I’ve missed this opportunity to reapply!

I’ve been out a few years now and feel more ready to take on the challenge at a different establishment, I hope that recruiting continues over the next few years!

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