Wednesday Webinar: Training Prison Officers

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14 April 2021

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Gain an insight into prison officer training programmes with experts Dr Geraldine Cleere (WIT) and Gary Jackson (HMPPS).

In this webinar we are joined by two experts in prison officer training: Dr Geraldine Cleere, Lecturer in Law and Criminology at Waterford Institute of Technology, and Gary Jackson, Delivery and Development Coordinator in the Custody & Detention Apprenticeship team at HMPPS.

Geraldine shares her experiences of developing and teaching a training program to recruit prison officers in Ireland, and Gary outlines HMPPS’ prison officer apprenticeship/training programme.

Listen to the full webinar on SoundCloud now


Training Prison Officers in England and Wales

With 26 years of experience in the prison service – 20 of which he spent working as a prison officer, senior officer and custodial manager – Gary transitioned from the operational setting around four years ago, to work in HMPPS’ Learning and Development department. Here, he is introducing the new prison officer apprenticeship model.

The most important part of the role of a prison officer is being a ‘people person’.

The standard training process to become a prison officer has seen students complete 8 to 10 weeks of induction training before transferring to an establishment and beginning their career. Little training is offered in addition to this, with many officers not gaining opportunities for professional development for years.

Following a 2017 Prison Officers in Entry Level Training review, this process was considered against the apprenticeships being designed by the government at the time. The apprenticeship model was selected to be the preferred mode of training, so a new standard of training officers was created with the Institute for Apprenticeships. HMPPS’ Learning and Development team positioned themselves to deliver this programme.

Gary shares two ‘maps to qualification’ which trainee prison officers embark on, outlining the previous 8 to 10 week training model and the current apprenticeship programme:

The Previous Training Model


The Current Apprenticeship Programme


Training Prison Officers in Ireland

Based at the institute responsible for training prison officers in Ireland, throughout 2016 and 2017 Geraldine worked with the Waterford Institute of Technology to develop the current training programme. With involvement in the course from the outset, Geraldine now delivers modules to students on law, policy and practice in custodial care.

Now in its fourth year, the Higher Certificate in Custodial Care is a two year programme with four semesters. The Irish Prison Service emphasised a value-based approach to prison officer work, and the qualification process includes modules which reflect this.

The Irish Prison Service wanted [a programme which provides] prison officers with the skills to operate ethically and effectively.

In the first semester, trainees go to the Irish Prison Service Training College, where they gain introductory knowledge, such as prison craft and conflict resolution management. The following three semesters are delivered through blended learning; trainees work as prison officers while continuing to attend fortnightly classes both in-person and online.

The modules offered range from social psychology to human rights law, with a focus on understanding the value of their role in influencing each prisoner in their care.

Listen to the full webinar on SoundCloud now

This webinar is chaired by Professor Tom Schuller, Chair of the Prisoner Learning Alliance.

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