Senior Officer
HMPS Blunderstone

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Neil S

00:01 And my name’s Neil S, I’m a senior officer at HMP Blunderstone and I’m in charge of wages and industries.

00:07 Basically making sure that prisoners go to work, employment, making sure that there is enough purposeful activity for prisoners, so they can attend education, labour, carpentry, welding.

00:20 Initially started in 2002 as a residential officer which entailed me working on the wings with prisoners and after three years I fancied a career change, so I became a segregation officer which is very challenging, very demanding, these prisoners are, I would say, going to the segregation unit for their protection. There also could be a problem within the prison estate and they’re very challenging prisoners.

00:49 Hardest thing, I think to me when I was working in the segregation where we’d just found a prisoner trying to hang himself, that was quite hard to deal with but then the prison service has a care team, they have support networks and, and I think that was the hardest thing to come to terms with. Then after two years down the segregation unit, I then moved into what we call the planning management unit, which is planning a prisoner’s sentence, trying to reduce their risk so they need not come back into prison and giving them the skills or enhancing some skills and basically coming up with a plan throughout their prison sentence, trying to reduce them offending.

01:29 I wasn’t that great school. I enjoyed school, I was always Mr average and I played Norfolk for sports, for football and cricket. I also done tennis and I did play a lot of sports, to be honest with you. But school was good, I mean I went to Great Yarmouth High School, never had a problem. To be honest with you, I was uncertain on what to do. I was going to go into the army and went for the career talk and I think they weren’t taking or recruiting for another six to seven months and I was at a loose end and I went into painting and decorating which I thoroughly enjoyed.

02:04 My father was a painter and decorator and he was a foreman for a firm and he suggested why don’t you come into painting and decorating for a short term fix. I ended staying into painting and decorating, to be honest with you. My dad left school with no qualifications and this was basically the only trade what would accept him without qualifications. My mum worked at Sainsbury’s and she’s retired now, she used to be a manager within the store.

02:28 I was in for four years then it was the building recession in the late eighties and then I was thinking I need some more job security and then I went into retail.

02:41 I worked at Sainsbury’s. I went in as a replenisher, various aspects of that type of job, cashier and then it was quite easy to progress into management, if, you know, if you’re a worker and you’re a team player and Sainsbury’s like, I will give them their due, were really good at promoting this, so I then went into management. I also done what we called merchandising, going round to new stores, helping them set up new stores, looking at problems, problem-solving, which I thoroughly enjoyed and then I became an evening manager and I was then having a child at this time and the responsibility was too, every evening was too much, so then I applied for the prison service.

03:27 I’d got a friend who worked in the prison service and said what a good career it was, job security was key to myself, especially being a new family member, I needed a regular income and the money was good at starting off and this is when I progressed into the prison service.

03:46 I’m currently a senior officer. I’d like to become a PO, which is a principal officer, which would be maintaining and running the gaol on a day to day basis.

03:54 END

Neil S is a Senior Prison Officer, currently looking at the next steps in advancing his career in the prison service. He says “I wasn’t that great at school. I enjoyed school but I was always Mr Average.”

More information about Senior officers in fire, ambulance, prison and related services

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

74%  male 
26%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Fire officers plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate the activities and resources of a specific physical or functional area of a statutory or private fire brigade/service and the resources necessary for the protection of property at fires within a salvage corps area. Ambulance officers plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate the resources necessary for the provision of ambulance services. Prison officers (principal officer and above) plan, organise, direct, and co-ordinate the activities and resources necessary for the running of a prison, remand or detention centre. Customs officers plan and direct the work of customs, excise and immigration staff in the monitoring and inspection of goods and persons crossing national borders.
The position of senior fire officer is achieved by internal promotion. Entry to senior positions within the prison service and revenue and customs is either by internal promotion or by open competition; both organisations operate accelerated promotion schemes available to internal and external applicants. Entry to the prison service is subject to age restrictions, and both the prison service and revenue and customs impose nationality conditions. Entry to senior positions within the ambulance service is largely by internal promotion from supervisory roles.
  • Liaises with other senior officials and/or government departments to determine staffing, financial and other short- and long-term needs;
  • Prepares reports for insurance companies, the Home Office, Scottish Home and Health Department, and other bodies as necessary;
  • Advises on the recruitment, training and monitoring of staff;
  • Fire officers plan, direct and co-ordinate an operational plan for one or more fire stations, attend fires and other emergencies to minimise danger to property and people, arrange for the salvaging of goods, immediate temporary repairs and security measures for fire damaged premises as necessary;
  • Ambulance officers plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate the activities of ambulance personnel and control room assistants, for the provision of ambulance services for emergency and non-emergency cases;
  • Prison officers interview prisoners on arrival and discharge/departure, receive reports on disciplinary problems and decide on appropriate action, make periodic checks on internal and external security, and provide care and support to prisoners in custody;
  • Revenue and customs, excise and immigration officers advise on the interpretation of regulations concerning taxes, duties and immigration requirements and enforce these regulations through monitoring of premises, examining goods entering the country to ensure correct duty is paid and establishing that passengers have the necessary authorisation for crossing national borders.
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