Prison Governor
HMPS Blunderstone

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Sue D

00:02 I’m Sue D and I’m a prison governor and I’m currently the governing governor of HMP Blunderstone in Suffolk.

00:10 It has its moments. At time it can actually be very challenging and quite stressful but as the governing governor of an establishment, the buck stops with you and no two days are the same. Quite a lot of meetings, inevitably. I have responsibility for five hundred and twenty-six prisoners and over three hundred staff, so as a result, I can spend quite a lot of time dealing with staff issues and/or prison issues. I also spend some time out of the establishment, because some of the work that we do in the prison impacts on the community.

00:45 My dad was a joiner and he was a carpenter and my mum was a domestic supervisor, for most of the time I was growing up, in a hospital. I’m the eldest of five children and I come from a Catholic family and I went to a Catholic all girls’ grammar school. I’ve lived in some fairly delinquent areas of Liverpool, so and actually working in the criminal justice system wasn’t high up my agenda. I imagined, at that stage, I would be something like a speech therapist or a teacher and that was what I went to university intending to do.

01:24 At the time I was sharing a house with a friend, in fact there were a whole group of us, and she introduced me to her father who came to pick her up at the end of one term and her father was a member of the prison service, he was an assistant governor at the training school at Wakefield and we got chatting and he started to ask about my degree course, he started to ask about what my interests were and then suggested to me that I might be interested in thinking about a career in the prison service and he said, why don’t you think of applying for the graduate entry scheme, and I thought, OK, sounds like it might be quite interesting, realising that if you’re entering as a graduate, the anticipation is that you will at least, at least reach governing governor stage and I attended a three-day extended interview at the prison service college in Love Lane and I came back to university and said, oh well, that was very interesting, now where’s the next application form.

01:28 Most ironically for me, I received two placement letters within one week of each other and one was offering me a PGCE, a teacher training place at a college just outside Liverpool and the second was offering me a place on the graduate entry scheme into the prison service. And I thought about it long and hard and spoke to my parents and they were quite astonished when I decided to opt for the prison service.

02:57 I think there are a number of times you come to a crossroads and then you make a choice and it’s the right choice or it’s the wrong choice and then you move on from there. I don’t think it’s possible to say that there is a key turning point, well there hasn’t been for me, I don’t think.

03:15 I’ve never regretted that decision. I like what I do, I’m an enthusiast. I think it’s been a very good career choice for me, I’ve been in the prison service nearly twenty-eight years now and while there have been extremely difficult time, I wouldn’t have stayed so long had I not enjoyed it.

03:33 When I joined the prison service I was under the age of twenty-four, because I came straight in from university, As a result, I served twelve months, a little over, in fact, in uniform, as a prison officer. That experience has stood me in very, very good stead, because it actually made me fully realise what life is like for the officer on the ground.

03:58 END

Prisoner Governor Sue D has responsibility for over 500 prisoners at HMPS Blunderstone. After a chance suggestion from a friend’s father, she has spent her entire career in the prison service. During her early training she served over 12 months in uniform and says of this experience “it stood me in very, very good stead because it made me realise what life is like for the officer on the ground.”

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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