BBC Radio 1 visited HMP Brixton and spoke to several Unlocked Graduates about their experiences so far on the programme.
Winnie is one of 50 graduates who’ve been put in prisons across England and Wales to help save the system.
It’s hoped trainees from the new government scheme will help boost numbers in the profession and cut reoffending.
Source BBC Radio 1
Listen to the programme (from 5.45)
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Children & Young People Now interviewed Unlocked CEO Natasha Porter about the aims of the programme, and plans for future expansion:
A prison officer graduate recruitment scheme is expanding into the youth secure estate, targeting social workers and teachers looking for a change of career.
The Unlocked Graduates scheme already offers graduates a two-year master’s degree to become a prison officer in adult settings and has announced this will be extended into youth prisons.
Unlocked said it is keen to attract social workers and teachers with experience of supporting challenging children to the scheme. It said the aim of the initiative is to improve support for vulnerable young people held in custody, reduce reoffending, and improve rehabilitation.
Source: Children & Young People Now
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The Times Educational Supplement had an exclusive look at how Unlocked Graduates are encouraging teachers to join the scheme, highlighting the specific skills they have that would transfer well to being a prison officer:
New charity sees itself as the ‘Teach First for prisons’ and is calling on overworked school staff to consider a switch.
A new charity has a bold proposition for teachers looking to cut their working hours but still do something socially meaningful.
The charity, Unlocked Graduates, is looking for talented graduates and career-switchers – particularly teachers – to train to be prison officers.
David Laws, Chair of Unlocked Graduates writes for the Times on why he believes greater effort needs to be made on education for young offenders as Unlocked launches a campaign to encourage more teachers and social workers to consider coming into the prison service:
Around 900 children are today locked away in England’s jails. Imprisoning a child is not undertaken lightly, so the offences concerned are likely to be serious, persistent or both. While this may mean public sympathy is limited, most people are aware that the average child offender is frequently as much victim as criminal. A third of sentenced children were living in care. The majority will have been born into chaotic, unsupported, unloving circumstances. There but by the grace of God . . .
Source: The Times
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The Secretary of State visited HMP Coldingley to meet some Unlocked Graduates along with the BBC. They watched the team doing cell searches and interviewed one of our participants as well as Unlocked CEO Natasha Porter to find out more about the programme.
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.
Read more BBC News: Scheme puts graduates on prison front-line
Two Unlocked Graduates joined a discussion on BBC 5 Live and made a strong case for why anyone should consider becoming a prison officer. They argued it is critical for people with optimism and a real belief in rehabilitation think about working in prisons and Unlocked CEO Natasha Porter explained what the programme is hoping to achieve.
- Source: BBC Radio 5 Live
- Link available until 16 September 2017
- Original programme (from 39 mins)
The first in an ongoing series, two Unlocked Graduates explained to Rick Kelsey of BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat why they decided to become prison officers and why it is an important job.
- Source: BBC Radio 1
- Link available until 16 September 2017
- Original programme (from 5mins 43 secs)
Physical violence, bad views and uncomfortable uniforms – why be a prison officer?
A £27,000 a year starting salary, in some parts of the country, might help.
The scheme, run by charity Unlocked and paid for by the government, has recruited the best 50 graduates from more than 2000 people who registered, and they plan to expand next year.
Read more BBC Newsbeat: Five reasons why I became a prison officer
Small prison reforms are encouraging but also highlight the lack of big change in the sector.
SOARING performances of songs from “Cats” and “Les Misérables” are unusual fare for a prison. But on May 3rd an inmate at Leicester prison brought an audience to their feet with his renditions. The recital was part of a TEDx conference, a popular lecture series that had never before been held in a British jail. In the midst of a prisons crisis, with violence against inmates and officers at record levels and crippling staff shortages, the event is an encouraging example of smaller efforts to improve conditions.
Read more The Economist: When TED talks came to prison
Recruiting top graduates to work in jails will improve a maligned service and lift inmates’ chances of rehabilitation.
In the 1970s BBC sitcom Porridge, Fletch, the prisoner played by Ronnie Barker, describes a friend who got into debt and had too many fights. “His brain went soft, his reflexes went. [He] just became like a vegetable — an incoherent non-thinking zombie.” The punchline is perhaps predictable. “He joined the prison service as a warder. Doing very well.”
Read more The Times: High-flyers can give new purpose to prisons
If you could pick a first job for someone leaving university this summer, “prison officer” would probably rank as one of the most challenging.
Inspectors’ reports have repeatedly said that officers in some prisons had all but lost control and that in some it’s easier for prisoners to get drugs than clean clothes. Officers have described the lawlessness and violence of prison life, caused in no small part by overcrowding and a surge in the use of synthetic drugs.
Read more BuzzFeed: The Graduates Who Want To Solve The Prison Crisis