Prison officers: our finest public servants

31 08 2007

Theodore Dalrymple in The London Times

Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the prison officers were the only public servants left in Britain who had any real sense of public duty. Given the choice – not that I would want it – between a world run by the Prison Officers’ Association and one run by the Home Office, I would choose the former any day of the week. To begin with, the prison officers are much more intelligent than the Home Office.

The prison officers still have the esprit de corps that the Government has made it its business to destroy in the NHS, the police, the schools and the universities. I remember an officer, a very mild-mannered man, approaching retirement, who had had to intervene in a fight between two gangs in the prison and had got a black eye for his trouble, as well several other injuries. He came back to work the next day and he said to me: “I’ve been in the service 30 years, and I’ve only been assaulted three times. I don’t call that bad, do you?” I did not find this spirit to be untypical, but I didn’t find it very often elsewhere.

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