Dear Prison Widow. Please can you ensure my name and email remains private.
I am a former prison officer and now work in the community as a senior support worker. I am not about to bash the prison service as I had some good yet challenging times working for HMP.
I resigned from my role as a prison officer purely through frustration and low staffing levels which left me burnt out and highly stressed. My colleagues and the prison itself were extremely supportive.
Drugs and mobile phones smuggled in to prison was a problem and indeed the issue is a constant and permanent battle.
Working as a community support worker has equally opened my eyes concerning substance misuse.
The clients I support have drug and alcohol addictions and the company I work for are forever recruiting - not because people leave; but because more and more people with an addiction are requiring support. This week, two of my regular clients relapsed and have gone AWOL. My fear is they will either end up in prison again or worse. No matter how many groups and activities I and other support workers introduce our clients to; it is sadly a constant struggle for them because normality for them is completely alien. We have had success stories; few and far between but we have indeed had them and that makes my job worthwhile.
People who write in to your blog sometimes speak of how drug riddled their communities are. I live in what was once a happy decent area with relatively low crime rates. Not anymore. Drugs in my neighbourhood are rife and there is no policing. Families who have had their houses burgled are often waiting 4-5 days before the Police come out to see them. People have lost faith and once hope has gone, which I believe it has in my community, standards slip even more and crime increases.
I was threatened last week off two teenagers whilst on my way home from work. One of them asked me if I could spare 40p to which I replied, no. They called me a fat bit*h and said they knew where I lived and that my windows were going through. They were high on some drug and did not have a care in the world. After walking off, I turned around and they were heckling some other poor soul for money. It's easy for people to call them scum of the earth and so forth, but I always think about their home life and how they've been raised. Any prison officer will tell you that they have had whole families in HMP. It's sad and unfortunately I cannot foresee improvements any time soon. Anonymous