SEVENTY students from Stafford College had an exclusive, behind-the-scenes introduction to careers in custodial settings as the guests of HMP Stafford Prison.
The students were on full-time Public Services and Offender Management courses at the college, with career progression routes into prisons, youth offender institutions and other custodial centres.
Lecturer Nick Gill, who worked in the prison service for 20 years, accompanied the students on their visit.
"It was a very special opportunity and we are very grateful to Governor Bridie Oakes-Richards and everyone at the prison for giving us exceptional access and a valuable insight into the operation of the prison," he said.
The students were able to see how the principles learned in the classroom are applied in a challenging environment.
After considering the function of the local prison within the wider criminal justice system with Governor Oakes-Richards, they went on to tour the prisoner reception area, learning about search procedures and equipment.
"They were then able to visit a prison wing and a segregation unit, talking to staff about the particular difficulties of their job and meeting some of the prisoners.
The students were particularly interested to observe a large route movement, as nearly 400 prisoners returned to their wing at the end of a day's work," explained Nick Gill.
Stafford College offers a range of courses for people interested in this kind of career.
Public Services qualifications include modules on conflict management and vital skills like de-escalation techniques which are so important in the sector. Students progress from those courses into jobs within the prison service as well as fire, police and the Armed Forces.
The foundation degree in Offender Management is for people who already have A-levels or vocational qualifications. Equivalent to the first two years of a university course, it is chosen by people who want to enhance their employment and promotion prospects within the sector.