Kevin, Prison Custody Officer, Forest Bank
Kevin is currently training as a Prison Custody Officer (PCO) at Forest Bank. He is one of a number of new recruits who have joined Sodexo’s Prison Custody Officer Apprenticeship programme, the first in the UK.
On his reasons for joining the apprenticeship programme, Kevin said; “I was a Prison Custody Officer at another prison over 10 years ago. I left to take a job for a lift company in mechanics and wiring. However, I missed the job. I wish I’d done things differently in my previous service and always harboured a desire to return. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
To work in a prison environment, it is imperative that individuals are held in a secure, safe, decent and fair environment and that PCOs work as part of a team to ensure that safety of everyone in custody is a priority. Therefore, there is a comprehensive training programme for all apprentices covering;
• Interpersonal skills
• Health, fire and food safety
• Prison Service Orders and Instructions
• Keeping people safe in custody, including working with vulnerable individuals
• Types of security
• Personal protection Awareness of departments around the prison and how officers work with them to enable rehabilitation
The programme also includes considerable live shadowing so all apprentices have an opportunity to practice skills while learning.
Kevin commented; “I’ve learned more about interpersonal skills. I’d forgotten things about the role and I’m drawing down new skills. The job itself has changed massively – I’ve had training on recovery to help residents with substance misuse, and equipment used to respond to incidents.
“I definitely couldn’t have gone straight back into the job of a PCO without doing this course. I had good experience in the past but nothing to show for it. I’m enjoying going back to the start and adding formal skills. The course prepares you for what you are going in to.”
Asked what advice he would give to someone considering an apprenticeship, he said; “I’d say be positive and have an open mind. The thing with Sodexo is that they will invest in you. They will see your qualities and you will get on – an apprenticeship can take you wherever you want it to take you.”