Op-Ed: Governor at Aylesbury prison shares over 30 years' worth of stories working at the jail

I started off as a prison officer almost 32 years ago at HMP Wandsworth.
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I’ll never forget my first months as a 20 year old looking after prisoners who were 21 years old and older!

It was surreal but I quickly found my feet.

Despite what people often think, being a prison officer is so much more than just locking and unlocking doors.

Mark Allen, Governor at HMP/YOI AylesburyMark Allen, Governor at HMP/YOI Aylesbury
Mark Allen, Governor at HMP/YOI Aylesbury

As well as keeping the regime going and ensuring prisoners are in the right place at the right time, prison officers are teachers, counsellors, first aiders and job advisors.

That’s why our staff must be resilient, remain calm under pressure and have people skills.

It's a challenging role which certainly isn’t for everyone, but it is rewarding.

And I’m so proud of everything the staff at HMP/YOI Aylesbury do every day to protect the public while also giving prisoners the best chance to live crime free lives on the outside.

Aylesbury prisonAylesbury prison
Aylesbury prison

From our Unlock Drama workshops, which aim to build the men’s confidence, to our Lifecycle project where prisoners learn how to fix bikes.

These activities are life-changing for prisoners.

Just like the wider public, our staff and prisoners have been affected by the restrictions the pandemic has had on their movements but I’ve been so impressed with how they responded.

The team set up in cell learning and education and helped the men to keep in touch with loved ones virtually.

We’ve ensured safety standards remain high, while also helping prisoners on their path to resettlement and also focussed on staff wellbeing.

Our staff are a real reflection of our local community and come from Luton to Milton Keynes and wider to work here each day.

They also continue to support the local community whether it’s fundraising for National Autism Day and Save the Children or donating to other local charities.

Working alongside them is a real honour and privilege and it was great to see two of them recognised for their hard work in the recent local High Sheriff awards.

I’d encourage anyone who thinks a prison service career might be for them, to join us.

Find out more about becoming a prison officer at HMP Aylesbury here: https://prisonandprobationjobs.gov.uk/prison-officer/

Mark Allen is Governor at HMP/YOI Aylesbury where male prisoners aged 18 – 27 serve long term sentences.