Prison Governor Careers

How to become Prison Governor

What does a Prison Governor do?

Prison governors, or operational managers, are responsible for the management and security of prisons, remand centres and young offenders' institutions.

The work varies according to the size and type of establishment. Establishments range from high security prisons holding category A prisoners to open prisons for category D prisoners. In large prisons there may be several governors on different grades.

Governors' work may involve supervising security, making inspections, carrying out disciplinary procedures, writing reports and liaising with other professional staff who visit the prison, such as medical staff and social workers.

Other responsibilities include training, working on admissions, and sitting on parole boards.

Prison governors might also work in national headquarters or have responsibility for training other staff at prison service colleges.

What's the working environment like working as a Prison Governor?

Hours of work are variable, and can be long with no additional payment for extra hours. They may include evenings and weekends, but work at night is less common. There are some opportunities to work part-time.

The work is mainly indoors within the prison. Prison buildings vary from modern to very old and overcrowded, although most older prisons have now been refurbished.

Governors also attend meetings, courses and conferences outside the prison.

What does it take to become a Prison Governor?

As a prison governor you should:

  • be able to work well with a variety of other people
  • have good written and spoken communication skills
  • care about prisoners’ welfare and be sympathetic to their problems
  • be self confident and able to lead both staff and inmates
  • be able to cope with pressure and enforce discipline
  • be able to handle difficult situations.

Prison Governor Career Opportunities

There are currently 138 operational prisons in England and Wales, 16 in Scotland and three in Northern Ireland.

The number of prison governors has remained stable in recent years in England and Wales. Scotland has seen a slight increase. The Northern Ireland Prison Service has been reducing the number of staff in recent years and does not expect to be recruiting in the near future.

Prisons are located all over the country in rural and urban areas. Male and female prisoners are usually housed separately. As a governor or operational manager you can be posted to any establishment in the country.

Movement from one job to another is on merit by local selection. Staff moving into senior posts must first pass a job simulation assessment.

An experienced governor can work at headquarters, prison service colleges or training units. Senior governors can have responsibility for several prisons.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Prison Governor that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

HM Prison Service
Recruitment Section
Cleland House
Page Street

Northern Ireland Prison Service
Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road
Tel: 028 9052 5065

Scottish Prison Service
Calton House
5 Redheughs Rigg
EH12 9HW
Tel: 0131 244 8745

Skills for Justice
9 Riverside Court
Don Road
S9 2TJ
Tel: 0114 261 1499

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