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Public Services students are first to go behind prison walls in pioneering work experience scheme

Six Extended Diploma Level 3 Public Services students from City College Norwich are the first in the country to complete a week’s work experience behind the prison walls of HMP Norwich as part of a pioneering scheme to engage young adults with careers in the prison service.

Isaac Mace, 18; Thomas Crouch, 20; Davina Wright, 18; Jake Sumner, 18; Scott Richards, 18 and Robson Summers, 18; spent five days gaining experience in a wide range of areas at HMP Norwich which gave them a rare insight in to the wide range of job opportunities available. As well as being allowed to work in areas such as the control room and offender management unit, the students were also able to learn about the prison service’s processes for a variety of areas including visitation, education and rehabilitation. The experience also gave the students chance to learn from prison staff in different roles, witness sniffer dogs working in security, gain an insight into a drug awareness programme and complete fitness tests that is a requirement for prison staff.

The students, who had already completed the custodial care unit of their course, had to go through a competitive interview process and security vetting before being allowed in to the prison. At the end of the week, the students gave a presentation to Justice Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, which highlighted what they had learnt and how they had found the experience overall.

Davina Wright, 18, from Norwich said:
“This experience has been amazing! I particularly enjoyed working in the communications room which is a really important part of the prison which can involve dealing with lots of things all at once such as communicating with staff to ensure everyone is going to the right places, notifying staff if an alarm has gone off and monitoring CCTV cameras. I’ve considered working in the prison service for quite some time now and this experience has made me want to do it a lot more.”

Robson Summers, 18, from Norwich said:
“This experience has been brilliant, it’s something that I’ll never forget and it will be great to put on my CV. I’ve learnt a range of things from this experience, I’ve learnt how the prison officers cope with the little resources that they have, how the system works and how many different types of jobs there are in the prison system. I’ve considered this type of career for quite a while and this week has made me want to go there even more.”

Patrick Setters, who worked at Norwich Prison before joining City College Norwich as a Lecturer in Public Services said:
“There is a recruitment shortage for prison staff and this is one way of helping to address that. It is useful for students who are thinking of progressing onto our Public Services degree course, as it has shown them the reality of management in a large public service organisation. In the long-term, I believe this scheme will help to recruit dedicated people who are aware of the challenges which will therefore retain staff.”