At various times in my career I've considered the option of working in a prison, but always rejected it. When I started, some probation areas had a policy of compelling PO's to undertake a stint in prison as there was always a fear that if you didn't rotate staff regularly, there was a danger of staff losing their, shall we say 'distinctiveness'. Some older readers might even recall that in the dim distant past some vociferous elements within NAPO even tried to get all probation staff removed on the grounds that working inside prison was inconsistent with our values.
My main reason for not working in a prison is that basically someone, other than my employer, could lock me out at the drop of a hat and I would have virtually no means of redressing that action. In an absolutely astonishing move, this is precisely what has happened to all the probation staff at three prisons in South Yorkshire. The governor in charge of HMP Moorlands, Lindholme and Hatfield has taken the action because he discovered that South Yorkshire Probation Trust has got into bed with private prison contractor G4S. Now of course that's the company currently engaged in trying to win the bid to run these three prisons and hence wrest them away from the public sector.
The problem is that South Yorkshire thought this was a smart move because it meant they would get a seat on the Board of G4S and actually be sharing the driving seat running these three prisons, rather than just being a sub-contractor to G4S, if they won the contract. The governor is furious and apparently his boss at NOMS has refused to overturn the decision. To say it's a mess would be an understatement. As of right now 2,000 inmates in three prisons have no probation service looking after their interests and helping them prepare for release. All this beggars belief when you realise that the prison and probation service are supposed to have unified management and oversight in the form of NOMS. Just another unintended consequence of the barmy privatisation agenda.