Alistair Ball

Prison Officer - Residential, States of Jersey Prison Service

A day generally consists of two shifts, morning and afternoon. At the beginning of each shift the various teams across the Prison will have a briefing to update staff on recent events, new important information and to ensure that all the staff are confident with the upcoming activities for that day. Officers will escort prisoners to their various work stations or education programmes, ensuring they maintain good behaviour and discipline. Officers also supervise prisoners whilst they have exercise, through the meal service and during the evening recreation period. During the day officers engage with prisoners in both one on one discussions but also groups. Often we positively engage with prisoners with the hope of assisting them make the most of their time in prison. This will hopefully allow them to leave prison with opportunities in both their social and working lives, through gaining qualifications from recognised courses.

What do you think are the three most important skills to succeed in your career area?
Good team work, good communication skills (essential) and a strong work ethic.

Was this something you planned to do or did you change direction at any point in the past? If so, what was that and was it easy to do?
Ever since I was young I had always wanted to work in the public sector, wanting to help out the public in whatever role I held. From a young age my focus had been on the Police Service or the Fire Service, I guess, as they are the services that you mostly hear about in the news. I had never really thought about a career in the Prison Service, however after researching the job it was clear that it was the career path for me, with many parallels to the Police Service. My first few jobs were actually within hospitality, where I working my way up from waiter to management. Although the two industries may seem extremely different, they both require excellent customer service skills, strong team work ability and rely hugely on clear and concise communication skills.

What do you love most about working in your career area?
In my career I get to work with lots of individuals from various employment backgrounds, nationalities, and life experiences. Some are ex-military, ex-teachers and some have joined after only having temporary jobs in different industries. This is great for workplace diversity and provides an environment where everyone can learn from each other’s experiences. Additionally, the comradery between staff is great and we are a healthy, multi-skilled team with an excellent work ethic. It is my colleagues who make working in a tough environment easier and enjoyable.

Are there any negative aspects of working in your career area that people considering it should be aware of?
With any career it depends on your personal circumstances, managing your time and be able to work exible hours. Although not a negative for myself, other people should be aware that one aspect of joining the prison service is that you will be working shifts. This may be an early shift, a late shift or an all day shift. We also work nights and some weekends. Although these shifts may seem long, they are balanced by a good amount of time off throughout the year.

What training / qualifications did you undertake for your current role or are you currently undertaking?
Every new officer goes through a nine week classroom based (POELT) training before starting in the prison. Training is then continuously given to staff throughout their career, ranging from Equality and Diversity, Special Education Needs, First Aid, Offending Behaviour and Safe Guarding Children to name a few. Officers will also complete a recognised custodial care vocational qualification whilst in their career, completing the necessary targets whilst on duty.

Is there any other information that would be of interest to someone thinking of this career?
This career can be challenging but it is definitely rewarding. As well as the training there are promotional opportunities which will open more avenues and the ability to broaden your knowledge. This career allows individuals to work alone but also within a team, with a great group of people. This career enables individuals to work in a unique setting, using various techniques and skills, in the hope of assisting prisoners with their rehabilitation, education and coping mechanisms, all whilst maintaining a safe and healthy working environment.