06 Jun 2018
Icon - Day in the Life

Prison Custody Officer to Senior Manager

Looking back on almost 10 years with Sodexo, David Gouldthorpe gave us an insight into his journey from Prison Custody Officer to Head of Residence.

Before joining Sodexo, David joined the Royal Navy at age 16 and stayed there for 8 and a half years, specialising in mine warfare. After leaving the Navy, David spent a year in retail management before becoming a PCO at HMP Addiewell in 2008.

David worked in several wings across the establishment before becoming a Senior Prison Custody Officer (first line manager) in 2010. During his time as an SPCO he worked in Tay and Lomond units, whilst overseeing the Intensive support unit (former inpatients healthcare unit). Following this David became the first SPCO to responsible for the Separation and Care Unit and population management, whilst carrying out the ACT coordinator role (for monitoring those at risk of harm to themselves). David was part of the Post Incident Care Team which is designed to support staff following any incidents. He acted up as a Unit Manager for about 6 months before the opportunity arose to become a permanent Unit Manager in 2013.

David with the team

In 2015, a new opportunity arose for a newly defined Head of Residence which David applied for and was successful. He has been in this post since, including covering the Head of Operations role for 6 months, and is part of the Senior Management Team at Addiewell. As part of his development David has completed management leadership courses in his own time along with courses such as IOSHH and Personality Disorder in Custody training. He has also visited other sites and segments, learning from other inspirational Sodexo leaders. David said: “This helped me start to understand and learn not just the Justice business but the wider Sodexo picture”.  As a Senior Manager, David said he’s learnt that “Prisons at times can be a fast paced environment; we have the opportunity and power to slow things down. By doing this we can give ourselves time to make correct decisions and to risk assess. This also means we can do things in a safe and secure manner. .”

David, who has received a Butler Trust Certificate and received a Sodexo Star Award when he was an SPCO for the support he provided his team, says his career highlight has been “seeing Addiewell 10 years later and running well, with good staff.”

He has also been involved in various major projects including a review of processes around removing residents from association due to behaviour and safety concerns. Most recently, David has played an integral part in a project for Sodexo Justice Services for all establishments, reviewing the safety of resident’s living areas.

Talking about what gets him out of bed in the morning, David said “Every day is different. But ultimately you’re trying to help people to lead and live a better life and plus I get to lead and support and a great, enthusiastic team.. Working in a prison isn’t just a job, it’s a life and a career.”

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