The number of front-line prison officers in England and Wales is up from 18,090 in 2016 to 18,755 this year, Ministry of Justice figures show. In future, trainees from a new scheme will help boost the numbers of graduates in the profession.
On E Wing at Coldingley prison, in Surrey, a group is being shown how to carry out one of the most basic tasks for a prison officer – though it is also one of the most important.
“Good afternoon, how are you doing today? We’re doing a cell search. Do you have any weapons, religious items, legal paperwork?”
The wing holds more than 500 of the most serious offenders in England and Wales, and the graduate recruits are being supervised as they look for weapons, drugs and mobile phones.
They are the first intake of graduates on a prison officer training programme modelled on the Teach First scheme for schools.