Being a prison officer is not a straightforward job and it takes a special kind of person
to take on the role. Those who enjoy challenging work, can stay calm in pressurised
situations and have a genuine desire to help others should think about a career as a
Responsibilities include the security of the building, supervision of inmates and the
training and rehabilitation of offenders. It’s more than just locking up cells but
involves the encouragement of prisoners to improve their lives and do so in a safe
environment. All officers will be expected to undertake an enhanced DBS Check. For
more information on what is involved in a dbs check
, visit Carecheck.
It’s a challenging combination of compassion and authority, where you’ll be thinking
on your feet and dealing with unexpected scenarios on a daily basis. Here are just
some of the responsibilities a prison officer takes on:
• Securely supervise and manage prisoners
• Maintain order and account for everyone’s whereabouts
• Carry out security checks and search procedures
• Supervise family visits
• Engage in patrol duties
• Escort inmates who need to attend hospital, funerals or court for example
• Advise prisoners towards professional help services
• Be the first to respond to incidents and work as a team to resolve situations
• Be conscious of prisoners’ rights and dignity
• Provide support and care for those at risk of self-harm and promote suicide prevention policies
• Run and participate in rehabilitation workshops
• Complete reports for managers and update records in line with procedure
Any list of responsibilities will vary depending on the type of institution. A higher-level
security prison or a youth detention centre will operate differently, for example.
Likewise, a prison officer with a higher rank will have more responsibilities, such as
supervising lower rank officers in the prison.
Of course, prisons are 24/7 operations so working patterns will never be the standard 9 to 5. Officers will be expected to work some unsociable hours, such as through the night, on weekends and bank holidays.
Working environments can differ considerably depending on the category of the establishment and where it is located. Prison buildings in the UK can be modern, state-of-the-art facilities or housed in old properties built in the 1800s.
Some of the important personal qualities for working as a prison officer include:
• Confident and solid interpersonal skills, be able to apply both assertiveness and self-motivation
• The ability to communicate well and get along with a wide range of different people
• Integrity and ability to take on responsibility
• Willingness to learn and great team working skills
• Quick-thinking and able to make decisions on the spot
• Organised, professional and calm
• Physically fit and healthy with high levels of stamina