Norwich officer urges South Asians to join prison service
Applications for prison officer roles are now open
A Muslim officer has encouraged individuals from various communities, especially South Asians, to consider pursuing roles as prison officers.
Hammad Butt, prison officer at HMP Norwich in Norfolk, has asked people to consider joining the service, as applications for the role of prison officer are currently open.
The Lammy Review in 2017 proposed that 14 per cent of new recruits in the prison service should be from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
Recent statistics reveal that the prison service is exceeding this target, with 16 per cent of formal offers for prison officer positions accepted by candidates from minority backgrounds between July 2021 and June 2023.
Butt, 45, relocated to the UK from Kashmir more than two decades ago. Formerly employed as a manager at a London local authority, he made the decision to move to Norfolk to be in proximity to his son.
Currently a part of the operations team, his responsibilities involve early morning processing of prisoners and organising their readiness for transportation to external courts. Additionally, he has experience working on the prison wings.
“I wanted a job that was more physical. There were desk jobs available in local government in Norfolk but I saw an advert for the prison service and when I read the job description, I thought it was for me,” he said.
“Having never had any experience of being in a prison before, it was an eye-opener, but in a good way.
“With my language skills, I knew I could also put them to good use. One prisoner came in and could only speak Punjabi. It was much better for me to speak to them and understand their emotions, than phoning a language line.”
Butt speaks five languages – including Pahari, which is his mother tongue, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi and English.
In his opinion, the prison officer role is a ‘very good career choice’.
“It’s got to help if the prisoners see officers from different ethnicity and colours. My family were shocked about my career choice and wanted me to go for a management role somewhere,” he said.
“I love communicating and understanding people. I don’t get rattled easily and I have the temperament to calm people down without showing aggression, so I suit this environment.
“There are times when my faith helps me to diffuse a situation. You never get bored – every day is different.”
Situated on the eastern periphery of Norwich in Norfolk, HMP Norwich functions as both a training and resettlement prison and a youth offending institution (YOI). It provides accommodation for 750 adult male offenders.