Prison Custody Officer
To provide a safe environment for the movement of prisoners within the court building and ensuring their welfare.
Gary Coles - How I became a Prison Custody Officer (PCO).
I left school with 12 GCSE’s and started employment in retail. When I turned twenty-one I decided the normal life was not for me and I wanted to join the Police Force. My eye sight didn’t meet the criteria to join the Police, but they invited me to look at joining a relatively new company working in partnership with Thames Valley Police looking after the welfare of detained people in Police Custody from the age of eleven upwards.
The same company was the provider of Prison Custody Officers on the PECS (Prisoner Escort & Custodial Services) contract, transporting prisoners around the country to and from prisons, Police Stations and Court establishments, as well as Custody Suites housed in Court buildings such as Oxford Crown Court.
In 2012 the Home Office awarded GEOAmey PECS Ltd 3 of the 4 custodial services contracts that run in the UK. To be a Prison Custody Officer I had to apply via the company website for the available role at Oxford Crown Court. I had to complete an online application and pass an online competency test.
Once I had passed the online tests, I was invited to attend a recruitment day where I met management and other PCO’s already doing the job that I wanted. I was able to speak with them and see the job from their perspective, gaining some knowledge into what they did as a PCO. During the day I had a one-to-one interview and had to pass two further competency tests. After that, I then spoke with a Vetting Officer, who took all my personal details, family members' details, and notedd my employment history. I also had to discuss if I had ever been arrested and whether I had a criminal record.
As a PCO you must have clearance from the Ministry of Justice to say that you are allowed to conduct the duties of PCO. PCO’s are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Had I ever been cautioned or charged with an offence as a child or adult, I would have had to tell them - otherwise I would have failed my vetting and not been offered a job. Lucky for me, I do not have an criminal record, but those people who do, as long as you are open and honest, your application will still be considered, depending on the offence and reasons behind your offending. My enhanced CRB clearance (now called DSB – Disclosure Barring Service) is on-going throughout my employment and is regularly checked to ensure I have not got in trouble with the Police since joining GEOAmey.
Company website: www.geoamey.co.uk