As this Channel 4 series filmed within the confines of HMP Brixton continues, it's highlighting some very familiar aspects of prison life for me. Senior Officer Cole struck me as pretty representative of the type of officer I'd characterise as institutionally obstructive. He manages to foster his profoundly negative influence under the guise of administrative routine and whilst going about it, can barely hide his glee. In fact I think he pretty perfectly represents exactly the sort of attitude that is likely to bring the worst out of the likes of Jerome.
In dealing with either management or visiting professionals, probation especially, this type of officer is an expert in delivering obsequiousness, whilst at the same orchestrating endless checks, administrative procedures, delays and general piss-taking for his and others amusement. Finding a way of dealing with this without losing ones rag is an essential element of being a probation officer wishing to visit any one of HM Prison establishments. Can you imagine what it does to relatives, let alone prisoners?
Well, as the episode showed, Jerome was punished by being 'shipped out' because clearly he found it difficult to do anything other than 'rise to the bait'. It's such a shame because absolutely nothing has been achieved other than stereotypical behaviour being reinforced. Gordon is absolutely right in identifying that Jerome's behaviour and attitude could have been turned around with a different and understanding approach. In my view it's Senior Officer Cole, and similar others who would benefit from some re-training and behaviour modification.
I thought the missing potato peeler and subsequent body search of all prisoners had an unpleasant whiff about it. Call me an old suspicious cynic, but I think certain officers knew all along there were only 11 and not 12 peelers, but the opportunity to cause mischief is sadly just as prevalent amongst some in uniform as it is amongst some of those incarcerated. I think this point was not lost on Gordon and he has undoubtedly learnt from it.