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Serco featured job
Legal, criminological and forensic

Featured job: Serco, HMP Fosse Way

Various Psychologist roles.

18 December 2022

Two of the roles in this month’s advert from Serco are for forensic psychologists at HMP Fosse Way, built on the site of the old HMP Glen Parva, near Leicester, to house 1715 prisoners. Rachele Murphy, Head of Psychological Services at the prison, explains why it is such an exciting initiative. ‘It’s a new prison which has been designed from scratch, allowing us to learn from other prisons here and overseas. Psychological thinking informed all aspects of the prison, so the ethos will emphasise rehabilitation, reintegration into society, building hope and looking forward rather than back. It will be an offence-neutral community and it’s based on an understanding of the effect of prison environments not only on prisoners but also on staff working there, something which is all too often overlooked.’ Is this true of the prison’s physical environment as well? ‘Yes, there’s plenty of open and green space within the site and the building structure – cell design for instance – reflects psychological thinking. It is a place where people will be treated with dignity.’

HMP Fosse Way will be managed on behalf of the Ministry of Justice by Serco, who have been running prisons in the UK for over 25 years and today run six others. Rachele is looking for a number of psychologists, not just the two mentioned in the advert, from Senior chartered psychologists with a lot of experience to those in training. What personal qualities does she expect? ‘They should have experience of working in a forensic environment, but more than that I’m looking for creative people who think independently. They must be passionate about working in a prison; it’s important that the men know staff are working beside them in the same environment. It’s also critical that our psychologists work alongside colleagues in other roles. An individual approach will shape our work, so psychologists at the prison must be able to use a variety of approaches to understand the men’s very diverse needs. It will be important to work in a compassion-focused way.’

Presumably, there are good arrangements for wide CPD. ‘Yes. Not only are the obvious areas such as risk assessment  covered, but we also encourage people who have specific areas of interest. I’m proud of the number of papers my team at HMP Lowdham Grange, where I’m currently based, give at Society and Division conferences and the extent to which publishers have shown an interest in their findings. A lot of my best experiences within Serco have been watching this growth and recognition of staff. Our links with numerous universities help here to.’

Universities in Leicester and nearby Loughborough have strong psychology traditions. Leicester is a centre of sporting and entertainment excellence and, of course, the Society’s national headquarters is centred there.

Rachele is keen to talk to those who think they have the skills and attitudes to contribute. What would she say to motivate someone to join? ‘One of the hardest things to cope with in our forensic roles is the already embedded culture of many prisons. You know it’s not working and the same mistakes are being made again and again. HMP Fosse Way is an opportunity to start from scratch and create a new sort of prison with the men actively involved. We’re trying to create a “done with” culture rather than “done to”.’

- Find more about the job here.