Norwich prison officer nominated for national award

A prison officer who helps offenders gain employment has been nominated for a national award.

Dave Damerell, 48, a community liaison prison officer who works at HMP Norwich, has been shortlisted for the Guardian Public Services Award.

Mr Damerell, who lives in Suffolk, said: 'I'm shocked and proud. I prepare long-term and short-term prisoners for their release and look at employment.'

His job entails liaising with offenders and employers to help secure work experience placements and jobs.

Mr Damerell said: 'There's an enormous amount of stigma attached. People stereotype other people – they put prisoners in a different mould. Work helps them because they have something else in their lives and improves their self-esteem. It takes away the focus of what they used to do in a previous life. I have former prisoners who write to me and phone to tell me how they are doing and I often get letters of thanks.'

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Mr Damerell, who has been a prison officer for 20 years, makes sure those going into work have a bank account and the correct identification forms. He also gives them interview tips and teaches them about managing money. Offenders have gained employment in sectors such as retail, building, hospitality and accountancy.

He said: 'It's not about the resettlement of prisoners, it's about reducing re-offending. We are in a business to help protect the public and which means helping to reduce re offending. We run work experience schemes which allow them to be released on a temporary licence. It gives them a chance to get out and work normal days and it gives them experience of what working hours are.'

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Thanks to Mr Damerell's hard work, 80pc of prisoners being released from Norwich Prison have gone straight into full time employment – more than double the national rate.

He will find out if he has won on November 22 at an awards ceremony in London.

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