A Prison Governor

Governor Caro­line John­ston, 47, from Stir­ling­shire runs Scot­land’s sec­ond­largest prison, HMP Ed­in­burgh

No. 1 Magazine - - THIS MONTH -

When I was younger, I wanted to be a maths teacher – I will never know why! Af­ter more than 20 years in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor, I de­cided, in 2008, I’d had enough. I did not en­joy my work and couldn’t see how what I was do­ing added any value or made a dif­fer­ence in so­ci­ety. I be­lieve it is hugely im­por­tant that you en­joy your work, oth­er­wise, how can you be happy at home?

I stum­bled across an ad­vert with an op­por­tu­nity to work in a fairly se­nior role with the Scot­tish Prison Ser­vice, and ap­plied.

Af­ter a lengthy – and some­what chal­leng­ing – re­cruit­ment process, I was de­lighted to be told I had been suc­cess­ful. I love the va­ri­ety the role brings and the fact that from the mo­ment I step into the prison in the morn­ing un­til the point at which I go home in the evening, I never stop. It’s an in­cred­i­ble role and one that brings many chal­lenges.

I am re­spon­si­ble for the prison’s 400 staff and 900 pris­on­ers.

I am happy at work and I love work­ing with peo­ple so ac­tu­ally this is the per­fect role for me! I don’t know how they per­ceive me, but I would hope they think I am firm but fair.

The most dif­fi­cult part is the work­load and mak­ing some very dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing de­ci­sions.

In times of stress, I have a cou­ple of close friends who I speak with and my hus­band, of course. I also find that a good ses­sion in the gym be­fore hit­ting the of­fice helps!

I am def­i­nitely a morn­ing per­son – I get up be­fore 5am!

I reach the of­fice at 6.30am as I per­form bet­ter ear­lier in the morn­ing and I like to have ev­ery­thing or­gan­ised be­fore the main staff ar­rive. Then I plan for the day ahead, emails, staff meet­ings and at­tend­ing fur­ther meet­ings in the prison to dis­cuss daily is­sues that arise from run­ning a large, com­plex prison. The thing I love most about Scot­land is… The land­scape is amaz­ing and we are so lucky to be sur­rounded in rich his­tory. My favourite stay­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion is… Any­where around In­ver­nessshire. My favourite Scot­tish city is… Glas­gow for the amaz­ing shops, bars, restau­rants and cul­ture. I would take vis­i­tors to Scot­land to… The Falkirk Wheel.

No two days in the prison are the same, so it can be un­pre­dictable.

In an en­vi­ron­ment with nearly 900 pris­on­ers in our care it’s in­evitable that is­sues arise that we are un­able to pre­dict e.g. health/men­tal health is­sues, in­ter-pris­oner vi­o­lence, at­tempt to in­tro­duce illicit ar­ti­cles etc.

I don’t stop for lunch! In the af­ter­noon, I at­tend sched­uled meet­ings.

These can be about health and safety, risk man­age­ment, ad­dic­tions re­cov­ery, or part­ner­ship meet­ings with NHS or So­cial Work. I leave work at 4pm, when I can, but it’s not al­ways pos­si­ble, and ar­rive home in Lar­bert around 5pm. When I get home, I have din­ner with my hus­band and youngest daugh­ter, then walk the dog, at­tend the gym for my car­dio fix, work on my lap­top and watch TV with my fam­ily be­fore go­ing to bed around 10pm.

Pro­fes­sion­ally, I am most proud of at­tain­ing pro­mo­tion to my cur­rent post, some­thing I thought I would never achieve!

Out­side of work, I am im­mensely proud of both my daugh­ters: my eldest has just grad­u­ated in law and my youngest hopes to study art.

My friends and fam­ily ad­mire what I do but wouldn’t want to do my job!

Oth­ers think I am jok­ing when I tell them what I do. I reg­u­larly re­ceive com­ments like, “You don’t look like a Governor” to which I re­ply: “What should a Governor look like then?!”

If I didn’t do this job, I would do vol­un­tary work with dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren and fam­i­lies.

I am known for be­ing pas­sion­ate about what I do and gen­uinely in­ter­ested in the peo­ple who work for me. I think, and hope, that peo­ple see me as be­ing a strong leader but one that en­joys en­cour­ag­ing them to be the best they can be.

My best ca­reer ad­vice? Work out what you want to achieve and go for it.

If you don’t suc­ceed, keep go­ing and you will even­tu­ally get what you want. If I could go back, I would have left the bank­ing sec­tor for the prison

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