A day in the life of a Prisoner Custody Officer (Escorts).
I’ve just completed my five week Initial Training Course (ITC) and the first three weeks so I’m waiting for my certification badge which is awarded to all Prisoner Custody Officers (PCOs) when they have achieved all recruitment, vetting and training standards.
I start my day by hitting the shuffle button on my iPod and riding the 20 or so miles to the base. The early shifts start at 6.15 or 6.45 in the morning but they’re not a problem – they go with the job. Finishing times do vary, which can make planning for social and domestic events a bit of a problem, so you do need to plan well ahead for things like doctors appointments. We have a diary at the base in which we can request finish times which works well so that’s OK.
The first thing I do is check the route and who I’m going to be working with. I like the variety of working with different colleagues, far better than staring over a desk at the same old faces every day. Daily vehicle checks are routine but essential. It’s a question of being prepared as my dad would say; “fail to prepare – prepare to fail”.
At base and in most of the courts everyone is friendly and chatty. As a ‘newbie’ everyone asks if I’m enjoying the job and if there’s anything they can do to help me settle in, which is good.
Our routes are planned by the team at the Operational Control Centre (OCC). They make sure that we know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Efficiency and punctuality are essential in this job to avoid any delays.
We have a mentor for the first two weeks after training. This is when you work together and gain ‘hands on’
experience, whilst overseeing how it’s done. Whilst waiting for my badge I’m only dealing with the BlackBerry, paperwork and things like solicitors and door keys. It’s all good practice and time to become confident and fully familiar with the job.
Professional, calm and unflappable. This job goes from routine to moments of intense concentration, instant decisions and action in seconds so expect the unexpected at all times. We always have to be observant and aware as well as confident when talking to prisoners too. But the most important thing is to be non-judgmental and treat everyone as you would like to be treated yourself.
“This job goes from routine to moments of intense concentration and instant
action in seconds so expect the unexpected at all times.”
Prisoner Custody Officer
Prisoner Custody Officer | About the job
No two days are the same for a Prisoner Custody Officer (PCO). You’ll come into contact with people from all walks of life on a daily basis as well as liaising with G4S colleagues at the base and courts along with a wide variety of other people including police officers, solicitors and members of the public.
Are you the person we’re looking for?
Being a PCO isn’t always plain sailing. It requires determination, motivation, initiative, adaptability and flexibility. You’ll be dealing with a wide variety of people as well as following processes and procedures in line with training and regulations, so the ability to follow instructions is essential.
We need people from a broad range of backgrounds with life experience who are good at listening to others, vigilant, non-judgmental and able to remain calm and in control under pressure. As part of our team of PCOs you’ll face many challenges so you’ll need to be able to think on your feet and use your initiative.
What will I be doing?
- Driving and accompanying prisoners in transit between custodial establishments
- Maintaining security and taking appropriate action to prevent escapes
- Searching prisoners and accompanying them in handcuffs
- Acting as Officer in Charge of a vehicle or at a court as required
- Preparing documentation and ensuring that all paperwork is accurate and current
- Liaising with court officials, solicitors and all members of the courts
Frequently asked questions
What are the working hours?
Hours are based on a rotating shift pattern which covers Monday to Friday and also Saturdays. Start and finish times do vary and so flexibility is key.
Will I be working with the same people all the time?
PCOs at bases work as part of a team. You will also work closely with PCOs from courts, other G4S colleagues and also external agencies such as police officers, solicitors, security officers, probation workers and members of the public.
Do I need previous experience in this type of work?
No. We welcome people from all backgrounds with life experience. Your positive attitude, motivation and non-judgmental disciplined approach are essential to succeed.
What training will I receive?
In order to become a PCO, you’ll attend our comprehensive Home Office approved Initial Training Course (ITC) which covers skills such as communication, security, first aid and control and restraint. The ITC is followed by shadow training where you will be paired with an experienced PCO in order to gain practical experience in all aspects of the job.
What vehicle will I have to drive?
Prisoner movements are undertaken in specially designed cellular vehicles which can accommodate up to 12 prisoners. Some courts also have their own prisoner transport vehicle which you may be required to drive in order to collect prisoners from local police stations or prisons and transfer them to court for their court appearance.
What are the benefits of working for G4S?
We invest heavily in our people and offer benefits that you would expect from a large quality organisation including generous holiday entitlement, life assurance, company pension, sick pay scheme, comprehensive training, career development and a uniform.