British prison officers at home in Kapiti
‘‘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.’’
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