Protecting your rights and wellbeing in the UK justice and custodial sector

Working in the justice and custodial sector can be incredibly challenging with exposure to high-stress environments that can have a significant emotional impact on you. As with other sectors like the police force, we believe that this area of the UK workforce deserves suitable protection of its rights as well as consideration of its major concerns.

We explore how individuals can protect their rights and wellbeing by becoming part of a Community union for workers in the justice and custodial sector.

What is the justice and custodial sector?

The justice and custodial sector is an incredibly important but also complex field encompassing the criminal justice system, crime prevention, community development work, and work with offenders and victims of crime. The field also covers those working within immigration services and tagging and monitoring.

  • The Criminal Justice System consists of law enforcement agencies, the courts service, and agencies responsible for detaining and supervising offenders. This includes prison officers and workers, but also probation services and youth custody workers.
  • Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) manages offender services for prisons, youth custody, and probation, and they outsource a number of services in the sector to private contractors.

What kind of jobs are included in the justice and custodial sector?

  • Prison officers
  • Probation officer
  • Community workers
  • Community development workers
  • Youth workers
  • Social workers
  • Private prison workers
  • Immigration centre workers
  • Courts & prisoner escorting workers
  • Tagging and monitoring officers

Protecting your wellbeing

Many who work in the justice sector will come into contact with the disenfranchised, distressed or even abused individuals on a daily basis. And the impact that workers have on the lives of vulnerable individuals is significant.

For important systems to function as they should, such as prisons and youth correctional facilities, it’s crucial that the needs of workers are met and that they are given what they need to carry out their duties without compromising their own health and wellbeing.

For instance, working in the justice and custodial sector is a demanding role and has a significant emotional impact on all staff. Often underestimated is the reality that officers are exposed to constant risk and often assault that can cause distress and fear.

For officers to continue to perform their jobs with confidence and expertise, it’s important that their essential needs as workers are met, including decent pay, sick leave, holidays and pensions.

Even small changes to job roles can have an impact on work-related stress, which could lead to depression, a sense of isolation, poor physical health, sleepless nights, difficulties relaxing, and emotional desensitisation.

Counselling, community support and suitable remuneration for their efforts made while working can help to manage the impact of such an environment on workers.

What support is available for workers in the justice and custodial sector?

At Community, we understand that the work of our members’ is vital to the UK justice system. We aim to offer everyone the same level of protection, community, and rights that those who work in the police, fire, and armed services receive, who are also exposed to considerable risk as part of their daily lives.

Promoting and protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of our members is of the utmost importance and we do what we can to voice the concerns of our community about important issues that matter. Some of the services we offer include:

  • Legal services, including personal injury advice and representation for you and your family
  • Excellent core benefits including the union’s Child Benefit, Bereavement Benefit and Benevolent Fund.
  • Access to a campaigning organisation for the policies and interests of our members in the workplace, the political arena and the broader community.

Why join our community?

As part of our work as a union working in the broader justice and custodial sector, we are committed to establishing constructive and effective relationships with employers to achieve the best possible terms and conditions for our members.

Many of our workers at Community are former employees who once worked full-time in the justice and custodial sector and understand the pressures workers can face on the frontline. We use this experience to represent justice and custodial sector workers as well as negotiating with the leading contract companies in the sector.

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