News & Views

07th Jun, 2018

A blog by Andrea - Operational Support Grade

This is a blog from an OSG (Operational Support Grade) who works in a busy, city centre, local prison.

This is a blog from an OSG (Operational Support Grade) who works in a busy, city centre, local prison.

My name is Andrea and I have been working here for about four years.

I work in the visitor search area for 4 or 5 days a week.

Searching of visitors is an essential task, as we act as a deterrent to people who may try to bring in contraband.  Doing this job protects staff, prisoners and the visitors themselves.

However we do a lot more than just search.

We are the first people that visitors see when they come to the prison, and I think it is important that we put people’s minds at rest and not make coming here intimidating.

If a visitor comes in with say a toddler and also carrying a baby, I’ll always offer to hold the baby so that Mum can be searched and look after the toddler as they go through the metal detector.  It’s just a little thing but it does help and Mums are always grateful.

Working in the search area means I get to know the regular visitors.  I always ask the children what their names are and when I say ‘Hi Luke’ the next time they come in it puts them at ease – they often come running straight to me as soon as they walk in the door. 

I try to make it an enjoyable experience for them, although I wear a uniform I am just a normal person – I would hate it if people thought that I was scary.

It is often easy to spot people who have not been on a visit before.  As soon as they walk through the door they look nervous – often on the verge of tears.  I make a special effort to ensure they are looked after and re-assured.  I will escort them through to the hall myself, explaining all the processes and then sit them down at their table.  It is not a lot of work for me but it does make a difference for a first-timer.

It is really important to remember that these people are coming to see someone that they really care about.

We get asked all sorts of questions by visitors.  How can I send in money? What clothes can he have? Does he get a newspaper? We will always try to answer if we can and if it is important and we do not know the answer, we will try to find out and let them know after the visit.

I often see our regular visitors in the local shops – I do not live far away - and I am happy to say that I have never had any trouble, in fact they will often come up for a chat and end by saying ‘See you at the prison on Saturday then’

Related Articles

This is part two of a blog by a brave young man called Zach, who describes his experiences when his Dad was in prison
This is part one of a blog by a brave young man called Zach, who describes his experiences when his Dad was in prison

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