Training For A Life In Prison (FULL DOCUMENTARY) BBC Stories


Are you allowed to film in here?
I’d be surprised if you are.
This isn’t daunting at all.
Being a prison officer
is a dangerous job.
We’ve been given exclusive access
to training for new recruits.
I’ve never,
ever done anything like this before.
The minute I walked
through the gate,
like, my heart was absolutely
pounding.
Where are all these new staff?
Are they just not going to put them
in this jail, or what?
I’ve got a bit about me,
so I’m all right.
I originally started out
that I wanted to be an accountant.
Some say our jails are in crisis.
There’s something a bit dodgy in
the razor wire here, by the looks.
I haven’t had anything
concealed inside their bottom.
Spice is a massive
epidemic at the moment.
More officers are needed
to help turn things around.
I’m not so sure that they know
exactly what they’re walking into.
But who are they?
What are their backgrounds? Bye!
Why would anyone want to become
a prison officer?
I like being put under pressure,
so I think with the crisis being
there, I want to go and change that.
I don’t want there to be a crisis.
There’s a reason why I’m here
and the reason is because
they need staff to replace staff
they’ve lost through various
reasons.
A lot of the headlines,
if it’s not, you know,
“There’s so many drugs coming into
the Prison Service”,
it’s, “Ooh, you know, prison
officers aren’t treating them
decently”.
I don’t know how else to put it,
it’s constantly bashing
the Prison Service.
The biggest fears of doing this job,
obviously, from what you see
in all the films,
it was getting my head kicked in,
really.
And maybe even getting to the point
where they actually kill me.
My first perception of submarines
was, obviously, relating to the
song, Little Yellow Submarine.
Um…obviously, I didn’t realise
there were these
great, big, black things
that are in the water.
Floor! Darren says
put your right hand on the floor.
Darren says put both hands on…
I was eight years serving in the
Royal Navy as a weapons engineer.
Sort of went into that field
because I didn’t really
do very well at school.
What is C&R?
ALL: Control and restraint.
C&R is an application of force
used with a three-officer team.
So, if there’s not three there,
what is it?
Personal… Whatever you can
justify at the time.
Best bit of the training,
I would say, so far, is C&R.
I absolutely loved it.
Get back!
You’ve got to be loud!
I thought, as a female, you would be
very vulnerable
and open to, um…criticism
from prisoners and some staff.
I thought, um…that female officers
wouldn’t actually be able
to do quite as much
as the male officers would do.
Back! And again! Back!
Ow!
But joining now,
it’s totally different.
Male officers, female officers
work alongside each other.
They support each other
in every aspect.
As soon as they get
a little bit too close…
“Stop there and I’ll talk to you.”
I wanted to be an air hostess,
a police officer, a fireman,
loads of different things.
A teacher.
Although my mum probably
still wants me to be a teacher.
Get back!
Was that all right? You held back
on… Oh, did I? Just knees, man.
In the back of my mind,
I’m always going to be thinking
I’ve got to be a little bit on edge,
a little bit more, you know,
protective of myself,
but I’m trained to deal with those
situations,
so it’s not a major worry for me,
it’s just something that I have to
keep in my mind.
Bladed weapons. Millimetres
to sever your main arteries.
You’d bleed out within a minute.
You sever a major artery and
get a full spurt without support,
you can be bleeding
out to the point of death.
Sitting behind a computer desk
is boring. I don’t like it.
So I wanted something where, A –
I can potentially make a difference,
which I can,
and also something that I’m going
to be doing that’s new
and exciting and it’s going to keep
me interested constantly.
If Miss… Where you at? You
all right now? Get some ice on it.
Good. Chat tomorrow before we start
doing anything.
Just got a bit of an injury
doing the training.
Got a bit of a knock to the knee.
It’s all right. Is it bad?
It was at first,
but it’s all right now.
I’ve walked it off a little bit.
I got a nice tan yesterday
playing football, as well,
so it’s perfect for the camera.
Ha-ha!
I played for England,
captained the England Colleges.
Played for Sunderland.
Went abroad and played in Iceland
and now I play for Middlesbrough.
I got to a point at football where
I didn’t want to do it as fulltime.
I can still play part-time
and obviously have
the Prison Service as a career
at the same time.
She can go straight from there.
Go on, take it.
And you’re back in locks. All right?
A lot of my family are men,
so being around men
and being in that environment, I
think I should be all right, I hope.
The next part, you’ll love.
LAUGHTER
LAUGHTER
Fingers, break them.
That way, rather than that way.
There’s a lot more…
CLICK!
Yeah? So…
It’s not “Give the prisoner
a good kicking”, it’s not at all.
It’s trying to keep
the prisoner as safe as possible.
LAUGHTER
As much as I enjoyed
the Control and Restraint training,
um…you know,
you really got an adrenaline rush,
you got a kick out of it,
but at the same time,
it hit home how serious
the situation can be,
the impact it can have on us
mentally and physically.
Um… And emotionally.
Because, you know,
no-one wants it to go to that stage,
no-one wants to be in that volatile
environment
where you’re having to fight
with a person.
Again, you would maintain
final locks.
Get the lock on.
Because this is still a noncompliant
prisoner,
and that gives me all this little
space to work at, yeah?
It is an extreme circumstance
where my life is at threat.
I didn’t realise we’d be allowed
to act in any way possible
if we we’re in that situation, but
it’s comforting to know that we can.
Yeah, definitely.
Definitely still want to do the job.
Not at all.
De-escalating a situation before it
even gets to the physical side of it
is the most crucial thing.
Run!
SHOUTING
Our recruits have been shown
how to handle volatile prisoners,
but how will they fare
in a real situation,
at a time when jails
across the country
have had to send in trained
riot officers for backup?
It’s quite intense now.
There’s a lot of new skills
we’ve brought on board from
when I trained.
There wasn’t so much
influx of new staff coming in,
so it didn’t have the same
amount of pressure on.
Since the start of January
to the end of June 2017,
there has been a net increase of
868 new prison officers.
This puts us well on track
to recruit
2,500 new officers by December 2018.
They’re on to hit the records
of recruiting more staff members,
say 2,500 by next year or something
it is, right. Where are they?
Like, how are we not getting out
of the pads more?
There’s loads of jobs in here,
this is meant to be a working jail,
half of the wing is
sitting in their pads,
getting their social in the morning,
then banged up all day
because they’re saying there’s
no staff to run the courses,
there’s no education on, there’s
no textiles, there’s no jobs on
because there’s no screws to run
the shops, do you know what I mean?
Yeah? Because we have prisoners
and staff who will want to get in…
Since I joined the service,
we’ve gradually had a decline in
numbers of staff,
and the cuts have absolutely
severely affected, um…
the staff, as such.
And it’s quite volatile.
Er…you can’t get away from the
fact, it’s been regularly reported,
it’s quite a volatile atmosphere
that we do work,
but with the skills that we teach
the new staff,
and with the experience,
er…prison officers
do a fantastic job
that goes quite unnoticed.
The trainees’ basic salary
will be around £22,000.
They’ll do a 37-hour week.
Working a mixture of day and night
shifts.
I think one of the most scariest
ones for me would probably be,
like, cell fires.
Obviously, a lot of heat,
a lot of smoke
and flames in a very small
confined space,
like a cell or their living
accommodation, it’s quite daunting.
Um…something I’m going
to have to deal with
and I’m more than willing
to deal with,
but it’s something that’s going to
be quite scary for the first time.
Today we’re doing what’s called
RPE training,
which is to enable the students
to be able to potentially save
the life of a prisoner
in a smoke-filled cell.
Put fires out.
Me, I was 23, as a female
starting in the Prison Service,
and you come across some big,
burly prisoners who are quite
aggressive and you’d expect to be
frightened by that.
And I think once you’ve started
and you get used to the environment,
you surprise yourself how unafraid
you are by certain situations.
I’ve got my wits about me
a little bit more, I think.
I’m always seeing what’s going on
and checking everyone’s all right.
I tried to save someone’s life once
when they were
drowning in the swimming pool.
I don’t really know
if it was dangerous.
I was 14, 15, I think.
Try and make sure it’s covering them
all the way around. OK?
Obviously got him
onto the side of the pool
and just started giving him CPR.
And obviously trying to just get him
breathing again,
trying to get all the water out.
He’d been under too long,
nobody had seen him,
so, yeah, he passed away
there and then, so…
Obviously, we walk past the swimming
pool every day and, like,
where it had happened.
The parents were still there that
night, so, obviously, seeing them,
That was kind of hard.
And it was just…
For years afterwards,
it was quite difficult to get over.
Um…but I think with
a lot of people around me,
they knew that I’d tried my best.
It wasn’t that I’d not tried.
That’s it. And shut the door.
I’m always seeing what’s going on
and checking everyone’s all right,
which I think will be
a lot like the prison.
You’ll always be kind of seeing
what’s going on.
You need to have your wits
about you, so I’ll be ready.
Try and do it as evenly as possible
so it’s not like it’s messed up…
The most dangerous situation
I ever found myself in was on board
one of Her Majesty’s submarines,
where we had a flood.
Because of what happens with a
flood, we had to emergency-surface.
And as we emergency-surfaced,
we blew the pump,
which then set on fire,
so we sort of had two
emergency situations at once.
You always just had to remain calm
and your natural instinct
sort of fell into place.
It is a very reassuring
thing to know about myself
that I can respond in that manner,
rather than panic straightaway.
Do exactly the same
with the other person.
Once you’re good to go,
then what would you be grabbing?
INDISTINCT
At Durham, we use 16 sets
on one fire.
£250 a shot to get recharged.
Expensive.
So it’s an expensive thing,
but, hey.
If you’re aware of a cell being
full of Spice before you went in,
they could be a good idea.
There’s a lot of staff that
go off with Spice-related illness.
Me, I’ll be in there, pulling them
out into clean air.
But you’re risking
the effects of Spice.
Horrible, horrible stuff,
but it’s there and it ain’t going
away, by the looks of it.
So the minister will be
aware of the major drugs finds
and related problems at Holme House
Prison in my constituency,
which has seen experienced officers
leave
and replaced
by 18-year-old recruits.
Does the minister really think
that recruiting youngsters
is the answer to meet the needs
of our increasing prison population,
tackle drugs and solve the crisis
in the Prison Service?
Hear, hear!
INDISTINCT CHATTER
Um…well, for me, obviously,
I’m only on an early shift today,
so I can’t really do much.
The problem is, we didn’t
actually physically see it,
so with only having one telltale
sign, we are pretty much guessing.
Obviously, one of our main jobs
is to preserve life,
so make sure he’s fine,
that’s the first port of call,
then we’ll go down the route
of he’ll be issued a DIS 6,
which is what we call a nicking,
for misconduct,
and obviously, the misconduct will
be under the influence of drugs.
And then that will go down to
the governor for adjudication.
We’ve known that we’ve had a problem
with Spice since January ’16.
That was when we first had a prison
officer under the influence of NPS.
So we’ve been trying to do things
to counteract that,
but the recent finds that we’ve had,
the 5kg find…
..we never in our wildest dreams
thought
that we had a problem
to that extent.
This poor officer was collapsed
on a seat,
completely non-responsive.
Everyone else went in
and I was on the outside,
but the governor said,
“You need to see this.
“You need to see what Spice… How
it’s having an effect on our staff”.
It was horrible to see, um…and it
was eye-opening, as well, because
I never ever anticipated that
second-hand smoke could do that.
That was day one, yes.
Recently, we had a big seizure,
I would say in the region
of about £150,00-£200,00 worth.
Two Weetabix either side and
the rest of it was actually Spice.
It is a chemical compound of a…
Well, it’s like a substitute
for marijuana.
So when someone takes it, you have
no idea how they’re going to react
because the reaction
is unique to every person.
As it’s a chemical,
it can be sprayed onto paper,
it can be sprayed onto
postage stamps, letters.
It can be sprayed into anything.
People on Spice have no idea
what they’re doing.
They have no control
over themselves,
so they could be doing
absolutely anything
and putting anybody’s life at risk
when they have no idea.
And I think that’s the most
worrying thing, that it
literally could be from
one extreme to the other.
Could be the littlest thing,
to death.
This actually came in,
I believe at the weekend.
You see, again, there’s quite
a weight in them, as well.
Yeah, so they can be quite compact.
We don’t know whether
that’s cannabis or Spice,
and that would be put into
a rolled cigarette with tobacco
and then the effects of the Spice
would affect the prisoner, as well,
and, as I say, after that, you just
don’t know what happens to them.
POUNDING HEARTBEAT
CLANGING
DISTORTED: You OK, there?
You all right?
On Thursday on my shift,
I opened a cell door
and was subjected to the fumes
from the drug Spice.
So I didn’t feel well at all.
I had to be seen by health care
and then I had to be drove home.
It was an awful experience,
to be fair. Dizzy.
My legs felt like they were going
to give way. Palpitations.
It wasn’t nice at all.
I met an officer who’d come in
from Durham Prison.
She got spiced and now,
because of the after-effects,
she’s on medication for the rest
of her life. And she’s in her 20s.
I don’t think prisons
will ever be drug-free.
The amount of different ways
that people seem to be getting them
in these days is just crazy.
I definitely think that prisons can
go drug-free. I 100% believe that.
Holme House is supposed to be
drug-free in the next three years.
Um….they have £9 million.
To be a sort of flagship of this new
regime, um…which is really
brilliant to be a part of,
being my home establishment.
ANIMATED CHATTER
Stop it!
The PowerPoints are over.
CHEERING
Bullet points are, too.
LAUGHTER AND WHOOPING
The flip charts are binned.
GROANING
Now it’s down to you.
APPLAUSE
The ceremony brings us
all together and gives us
a final chance to say our goodbyes.
And, um…we get to celebrate.
We get to, you know, be together,
feel proud of what we’ve achieved
and go on to our new adventure
as prison officers.
So, yeah, I’m really excited.
I’m emotional,
but I’m always emotional.
SHE LAUGHS
APPLAUSE
I’m nervous, but nerves are good.
I think it’s one of those things
that you’re going to have to
be nervous and just got to take
anything as it comes.
Every day is going to be
different, so… Excited!
H Section, please stand!
HH617, pay attention.
Stay safe. You’re now dismissed.
APPLAUSE
Hard work starts now. Monday
morning, 8:15, all go, go, go.
Um…funniest thing?
One of the… I’ve had a prisoner
that’s turned round to us
and said I look like his twin,
um…that was given up at birth.
I think that took me off guard,
but that was quite funny.
Unfortunately,
we do look fairly similar.
He could, er…fit a sham…
..anti-dandruff shampoo bottle up
his, er…anal passage.
That’s probably the funniest thing
that’s ever been said to me.
No idea.
No idea why he told me that.
Sometimes they might come in
with unauthorised goods
in their…orifices.
Orifices? Is that the right word?
So they have to sit
right at the back, make sure…
I’m going to beep, basically,
because I have keys,
but the have to sit right at the
back and it beeps when you have…
I don’t know if you can hear that.
So when you have something metal
on you…
Most prisoners that I’ve come across
haven’t had anything concealed
inside their bottom.
SHE LAUGHS
You might not want to film that one,
but, yeah, these cubicles
are used for prisoners
that are going out on escort.
So, um…I’m mainly
stood at the desk
because obviously, I’m not allowed
to be around for a full search,
and the officers will perform
a full search on a prisoner
and I have to note down the
description of their clothing.
And then they get dressed again
and go out on escort.
The emotional stress
that you kind of go through…
..I would say no other workplace has
that, apart from perhaps the police.
You wouldn’t have officers having
to breathe in second-hand smoke
because all the other
places of work have banned that.
You don’t have any other
work environment where, you know,
you get swearing
and all sorts of abuse
sometimes when a prisoner
just sees red.
You don’t get that anywhere else.
Have you got anything else
you shouldn’t have? OK.
Awesome. See you. Thanks.
Once you learn something,
I feel like you need
a lot of practice in it.
And just when I started
to grasp something,
I moved on to a different area.
So, I feel like I’m a little bit
slower learning.
There’s something a bit dodgy in the
razor wire, really, by the looks.
What? Come and have a look at this
in the razor wire.
What, that sock? That sock?
That’s a sock, mate, with something
wrapped inside of it.
You can see where it’s torn,
there’s a bit of, like, a white
plastic bag coming out of it.
Not going to be easy, coming down,
though.
The hardest thing to get used to
with the job is the different
routines and regimes.
You all right? Yeah, I’m fine. You
better be. You know, you’ve just got
to face it.
Because the house blocks have
different structures,
in terms of layout,
quantity of prisoners,
the different jobs, you just don’t
just stay in your own house block,
you do move around a bit.
It’s getting used to all
the different regimes,
finding out what the core day is,
and then learning how to
fit that in to your own routine,
and all the other routines, as well.
If you keep shouting out the window,
you’ll be getting a basic warning,
so shut up!
Any volatile situation,
or any situation that could turn
volatile, is very easy to calm down.
PRISONER SHOUTS: Oh,
you’re a big man!
HE CHUCKLES
Right, I’ll give you your paperwork
when I come in, then.
Just by verbal communication,
listening,
communicating effectively…
And I’ve asked you
nicely to keep it quiet!
HE SIGHS
HE SINGS: Prestigious.
Even if he is a good lad…
You know I’m a good lad!
There’s always a bit of banter, but
obviously these guys have got to do
their jobs, haven’t they? So…
The prisoners know where to
draw the line with that one.
I’ve seen people shove
things at staff.
I’ve seen staff getting chased
with planks of wood and stuff.
That’s just not the way to be,
is it?
Is there a part of you that wants
to sort of, test them
a little bit when they first start,
to see what you can get away with?
Nah. That’s not a good route to go
down, that, like.
As long as you’re all right with
them, they’re all right with you.
That’s just easy jail, isn’t it?
See you later…
Quite a lot of people, especially
that I used to hang around with
when I was younger, sort of,
are in a bit disbelief that I’ve
become a prison officer,
cos half of them probably expected
that I’d be in prison myself.
Erm… Not that I did anything
naughty when I was younger.
Even though I’ve not
been in the job that long,
it’s sort of a natural reaction,
as soon as you see another member
of staff getting assaulted, it just
kicks in straightaway, like.
It’s second nature.
Me and another two members of staff
sort of restrained him to the
point where we had to remove him
from that house block
down to the segregation unit,
as safely as possible.
When this film went out,
the new recruits had
been on the job seven months.
I think it’s a bit too early to say
if I’m making a difference or not.
If you came back
and asked me in five years’ time,
I’d probably have a better
answer for you.
Lyle is interested in promotion,
but says he needs to learn
more about the job.
Arron has been encouraged by senior
officers to work in different
parts of the jail.
He says he’s loving being
a prison officer.
So, my next thing would be probably
be to experience a house block,
because I am sheltered from that
a little bit more than
the others in the house block.
If I’m confident enough, and
competent enough, then I can
move on up… Or in different
areas. We’ll see.
Syra hasn’t made it onto
a house block just yet.
She says she’s exploring her
options,
but is keen to
stay in the civil service.
You know, we are effectively a
nurse, a fireman, a police officer,
a mental health nurse, you know,
we’re little bits of each,
all into one.
That’s what a prison officer is.
I would like the public to
think that prison
officers are professionals.
We’re not thugs,
we’re not bullies, we don’t just
lock and open doors.
We’re not the judge or the jury.
Erm…
We’re here to help rehabilitate them
and care for them.
Rebekah works 55 miles
away in West Yorkshire.
She has just returned to work after
two months off with a back injury.
Holme House still hopes to be
drug-free by 2021
and fully staffed by August 2018.
MAN SHOUTS
What was that? What did he say?
He says I don’t have a clue.
I’ve put them on the boss chair.
I’ve never used… Must be boss
chair.

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