HMP Aylesbury officer encourages people from diverse backgrounds to join the prison service

To mark Ramadan (10th March to 9th April), a prison officer at a Buckinghamshire prison is calling for more people from diverse backgrounds to follow his example by joining the service to help others.
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Mohammed Nasir, 33, joined HMP Aylesbury a year and a half ago after teaching Arabic abroad.

He said:

“A family member worked in the chaplaincy here at HMP Aylesbury, so I was fortunate enough to do some voluntary work at the prison, which peaked my interest. So, I decided to apply to join the service as an officer and that’s where my journey began.”

Office NasirOffice Nasir
Office Nasir

The holy month of Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar and Muslim prison staff can observe the holy month’s traditions while at work, such as fasting from dawn until sunset. Other ways they’re able to observe Ramadan including suhoor, the morning meal eaten by Muslims before the sun has come up during Ramadan; iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims at sunset to break their fast, and Salah, performing five daily prayers during the holy month.

On observing Ramadan officer Nasir said:

When I observed Ramadan last year as an officer, I did find that there was a lot of support and understanding from the other colleagues. For example, when I was doing a late shift, I was able to break my fast and other officers would respect the fact I would need to sit down for five to 10 minutes and have something to eat. If I also needed to make prayers that was also accommodated - so long as the operational side of things allowed it. There was always the option of switching shifts for Eid with other staff as they understood if I needed time off.”

The focus of an officer’s work is to keep the prisoners and public safe, but it is also important to be a role model for prisoners and someone they can talk to. Breaking the cycle of crime is important to officer Nasir.

He said:

“I enjoy helping people, which is what being a prison officer is all about. I have enjoyed sitting down one-to-one with prisoners and really getting to understand their issues. After you’ve built a rapport over a long period of time, it’s rewarding to start seeing positive changes in the prisoners. So a lot of the role is about talking and connecting with the prisoners – helping them day-to-day.”

Earlier in the year Mohammed moved into a business support role. He hopes to continue his career in the prison service for many years to come and would like to eventually work in the chaplaincy.

On the prison service as a career for people from diverse backgrounds he said:

“If you are thinking about a career in the service, my advice is to go ahead and do it. The prison service recognises and respects people from all backgrounds, which is so important - there is a lot of support and understanding from colleagues. If you are Muslim, for example, and you are thinking working in the service might impact observing Ramadan – it won’t. It hasn’t affected me and my colleagues in that way, at all.

“There are also so many different avenues you can go down once you’ve joined. It was only after I joined HMP Aylesbury that I began to realise the breadth of roles in the service that were available. It can certainly be a career for life.”

You do not need qualifications to become a prison officer or to join in a support staff role. HMPPS is looking for compassionate, creative people with excellent communication skills who can make decisions effectively.

HMP Aylesbury is looking for prison officers to join the team. New recruits start on a salary of £34,402 and full training will be given. To find out more click here.

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