MORE than 100 newly recruited Prison Officers have started their training at Leeds Trinity University.

Participants on the Unlocked Graduates programme started a two-year leadership scheme for prison officers on July 22. They will work full-time in prisons across the country from September and study part-time for a Masters degree in Applied Custodial Leadership.

The course starts with an intensive six-week training programme, at the university’s campus in Horsforth, where the participants will be trained on site. They will also spend some time in prisons across the country where they will take up their posts if successful, and where they will help tackle the effects of coronanvirus.

Several high-profile speakers will address the trainees in the coming weeks with the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC kicking off at their opening ceremony.

Natasha Porter, CEO and founder of Unlocked Graduates, said: “We are excited to be introducing our fourth cohort of highly trained and motivated officers into the prison service and look forward to them having an immediate impact on the Prison Service from September. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for all public services and the prison system is no exception. The frontline workforce of prison officers has never been more crucial than as they work to support prisoners during this time.

“We are indebted to all at Leeds Trinity University who are working with us so closely to allow this training to go ahead.”

Safety measures have been put into place at the University. They include Covid-19 testing before arriving on site, daily temperature checks, hand sanitisers at each building entrance, screens at reception desks, doors fitted with foot handles where possible, and clear signage for a one-way system.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret A House, said: “The University’s core values of care, collaboration, integrity, excellence and inclusivity resonate entirely with the Unlocked leadership programme and I am thrilled that we are able be work with together to deliver this innovative and much needed programme.

“In hosting the Summer Institute, we are joining many other universities across the country who are offering their services (whether that be research, expertise or facilities) in the fight against Covid-19, and I am proud that we can open our campus for this essential keyworker training.”

In a letter to Professor Margaret House, Gail Hydon, Divisional Director for Leadership, Talent and Capability at the Ministry of Justice, said: “I would like to thank Leeds Trinity University for providing the facilities and services to allow this training to go ahead. The effort to tackle the effects of coronavirus in prisons is vital, and the support of Leeds Trinity University and Unlocked Graduates is invaluable.”