Prison staff you will deal with

Within the prison system there are many different types of people you will deal with.

  • Firstly there are the uniformed staff and these can be split into 2 sections; Prison Officers and Officer Support Grade. If you held in a private prison the names used may be different but the concept is the same.
  • Prison officers can be distinguished by the epaulettes they wear.  A basic grade officer has one silver stripe, a supervising officer has 2 and a custodial manager has 3. Until relatively recently these were call officer, senior office and principal officer. Officer Support Grade don’t have any stripes. Above these are various levels of governors who are not in uniform. Within any prison there will be as many as 10+ governors of various grades and specialities, such as security, residential, regimes, operations etc and they will report to a top governor used described as “the No. 1 Governor”.
  • Secondly there are the “service providers” who work within the prison. These people are NOT prison officers and will not have access keys to much of the establishment. These individuals provide education, courses, healthcare, work shops and employment etc.
  • Thirdly there are administration staff who fulfil the roles their names indicate.

Whatever their status of job description these individuals have a significant impact on your time in prison. On a most basic level they have access to an information system called P-NOMIS (prison national offender management information system). This system records all comments made about your behaviour and attitude whilst in prison ( both negative and positive) and is used to assess your suitability for moving up in status from Standard to Enhanced as well is deciding if you are suitable for working within a trusted position within the prison such as an orderly.

However, the better you treat them the better they treat you. Prison staff are dealing day-to-day with prisoners from all walks of life and with all types of issues and problems. Their main purpose is “to carry out the instructions of the courts, and to ensure that society is protected”. In simple terms that means to keep you from escaping, it does not mean they have to make you happy! Most officers face hassle and hostility from the prisoners in their care; if you are reasonable and polite in your dealings with them you will find that they will actually do more to help you than those who are always complaining and being difficult, its human nature. That is not to say that some prison officers treat prisoners with no respect or humanity, or are just down right lazy and won’t do anything to help you!

The protocols within prison say that you will be called Mr Smith or Miss Brown by the prison staff, and that you address staff by their name as well. The prison staff usually do know your name, but for a new prisoner it is difficult to remember the names of the prison staff. The common answer to this dilemma to call all male uniformed staff “Boss” or “Sir”, and all female uniformed staff “Miss”. Those who wear a suit usually respond if they are called “Guv” or “Ma’am”! First names are very rarely used by prison staff, and in the presence of prisoners they will even address their colleagues as Miss Patel or Mr Green.

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