Bri­tish prison of­fi­cers at home in Kapiti

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - CHELSEA MCLAUGH­LIN

‘‘It is a mas­sive step to move from one side of the world to this side of the world ... once you’re here you feel the ben­e­fits of it through your life­style.’’

Bri­tish ac­cents are be­com­ing more preva­lent in pris­ons all over the coun­try.

More than 50 Bri­tish prison of­fi­cers have moved to New Zealand as part of an overseas Cor­rec­tions re­cruit­ment cam­paign, bring­ing their ex­pe­ri­ence to pris­ons around the coun­try.

Twenty-six of th­ese of­fi­cers took part in a grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony in Up­per Hutt on Thurs­day, although some have been work­ing in pris­ons since Jan­uary.

United King­dom re­cruits that have more than two years of ex­pe­ri­ence un­der­went a short­ened three week train­ing course, rather than the full 12 week pro­gramme.

Hus­band-and-wife duo Rab and Lisa Dall moved from Ox­ford­shire in De­cem­ber.

Rab, pre­vi­ously team leader of the na­tional tac­ti­cal re­sponse crew at Kidling­ton, is now se­nior tac­ti­cal in­struc­tor and makes sure re­cruits get ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing.

Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer Lisa, for­merly cus­to­dial man­ager at Bulling­don Prison, says New Zealand of­fers an ap­peal­ing way of life and new op­por­tu­ni­ties for her, Rab and their six-year-old daugh­ter.

The move was a very ‘‘off-the­cuff’’ de­ci­sion, she says. Within 12 weeks of ap­ply­ing, the fam­ily was plan­ning their move and are now based on the Kapiti Coast.

‘‘We came for the chal­lenge and some­thing new,’’ Lisa says.

‘‘Prison ser­vice in the UK is ex­cep­tion­ally dif­fi­cult at the mo­ment, I’d say. It has a lot of is­sues.

‘‘We looked at New Zealand and the prison ser­vice and safety is para­mount for staff. I think that was a huge thing for us be­cause we felt we were per­haps slightly los­ing [in the UK].’’

Lisa says the gen­eral ethos of the job is the same in both coun­tries, but un­der­stand­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures and gang re­la­tions were some of the things they had to get their heads around.

Rab says the move has been noth­ing but pos­i­tive.

‘‘It is a mas­sive step to move from one side of the world to this side of the world ... All the up­heaval, all the stress get­ting your­self over here: once you’re here you feel the ben­e­fits of it through your life­style, and also with the safest depart­ments I’ve worked across.’’

New Zealand has a com­mu­nity feel that is lack­ing in some of Bri­tain’s big cities and towns, Lisa says.

‘‘Ev­ery­one’s been re­ally ac­cept­ing, wel­comed us with open arms. And that’s not just Cor­rec­tions, that down to silly things like go­ing to the bank.’’

Cor­rec­tions chief cus­to­dial of­fi­cer Neil Beales says Cor­rec­tions needs to hire hun­dreds of new of­fi­cers to cope with the ris­ing prison pop­u­la­tion and usual staff turnover, which re­quires look­ing overseas to en­sure a bal­ance of ex­pe­ri­enced and new staff.

‘‘While we have been heav­ily re­cruit­ing in New Zealand, there is a re­quire­ment for us to reach abroad to the UK and Aus­tralia and other coun­tries to get some ex­pe­ri­enced staff over so that they can hit the ground run­ning.’’

Beales moved from the UK in 2009 to take up a role as Auck­land Prison man­ager. ‘‘I think we’ve got some great peo­ple, some re­ally great peo­ple. They’re go­ing to serve us well, they’re go­ing to do well for New Zealand.’’

PHOTO: LUCY TOWNEND

Rab and Lisa Dall moved to the Kapiti Coast from Ox­ford­shire in De­cem­ber. Cor­rec­tions have so far hired 52 Bri­tish of­fi­cers, with more on the way. Rab Dall

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