Norfolk prison looking for armed forces veterans to join officers

Prison officers at HMP Wayland.

Prison officers at HMP Wayland. - Credit: Ministry of Justice

A Norfolk prison is looking for armed forces veterans to become prison officers, as part of a fast-track recruitment scheme to help them into roles.

Armed forces veterans make up a significant proportion of the current prison office workforce, and their "transferable skills" make them ideal for the job, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says.

It added their "good communication, influencing skills, commitment to quality, effective decision-making, care and understanding" help them meet the requirements of the prison officer role.

This is something officer Fitzpatrick, an Armed Forces veteran and prison officer at HMP Wayland, can testify to, having served five years with the Queen's Royal Hussars - starting in Kosovo before being deployed to Iraq.

Officer Fitzpatrick, an Armed Forces veteran and prison officer at HMP Wayland

Officer Fitzpatrick, an Armed Forces veteran and prison officer at HMP Wayland - Credit: Ministry of Justice

"I thought on my return that it was time to try something new", he said.

“I knew I wanted to join another uniformed service, somewhere structured where I could build a new career, so I joined the prison service as an operational support grade.

"Two years later I became a prison officer and since then, I have been promoted to supervising officer and now custodial manager."

Most Read

And in highlighting his example, HMP Wayland in Griston, near Watton, has announced it is looking for veterans and service leavers to become prison officers and "continue their duty to protect the public".

Officer Fitzpatrick, an Armed Forces veteran and prison officer at HMP Wayland

Officer Fitzpatrick, an Armed Forces veteran and prison officer at HMP Wayland - Credit: Ministry of Justice

Officer Fitzpatrick added: “The prison service offers the same camaraderie that you get in the armed forces, you get to know each other, and how to work together.

“The role is about working with the prisoners to help turn their lives around and to stop them coming back.

“I think the life experience and the communication skills you get from the forces are what helps make veterans such great prison officers. Your voice is your most important tool.

"I’d definitely recommend it to service leavers, it’s not like any other job.”

Officer Fitzpatrick, an Armed Forces veteran and prison officer at HMP Wayland

Officer Fitzpatrick, an Armed Forces veteran and prison officer at HMP Wayland - Credit: Ministry of Justice

It comes after the government launched ‘Advance into Justice’, a fast-track veteran recruitment scheme to provide a "stable career" to those who have left the armed forces within the last five years and not in full-time employment.

The drive looks to "significantly reduce" the length of the standard prison officer application process.

The role

Prison officers at HMP Wayland help to maintain safety standards on the inside, while also giving prisoners the skills and support they need to live crime-free lives on the outside.

This might involve encouraging participation in education and substance recovery programmes, as well as helping prisoners to maintain vital family ties.

The MoJ said people do not need qualifications to become a prison officer, HMPPS (Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service) believes that "personal qualities are more important".

Training is available throughout a prison officer’s career.

Officers can choose to specialise in working with vulnerable prisoners, become a dog handler or train as a physical education instructor.

The offer includes home to work travel costs of up to £8,000 for the first two years or a relocation package of up to £12,000, depending on the applicant’s location.

The prison officer role at HMP Wayland offers a starting salary of £24,427 (39 hours a week) and a Civil Service pension.

Applications close on Thursday, February 17. For more information visit here.