Facing a shortage of both prison officers and other employees, the Cayman Islands will lower the hiring age for its prison system to 19.
Corrections and Rehabilitation Commissioner William Rattray said the prison system is short eight officers and has nine vacancies in other non-officer positions.
The previous age limit for prison hires was 21. Mr. Rattray said that will change in the next round of recruiting which is expected to start soon.
‘There are some very mature people at the age of 19 who are definitely capable of working in a prison environment,’ Mr. Rattray said.
He also noted that lowering the hiring age will put Her Majesty’s Prisons on equal footing when competing for new hires.
‘The uniformed services are, in effect, fishing in the same pool. By not having the same starting age…then we are, to some extent, restricting ourselves.’
Mr. Rattray blamed the staffing shortage partly on the difficulty in recruiting people to work at a prison and partly because of the costs of recruitment classes.
‘It’s simply a matter of economy of scale,’ he said. ‘They can’t take two people at a time and put them through a training programme.’
He said the prison system has not done a great job of advertising itself.
‘Because prisons are closed institutions people don’t really know an awful lot about what actually goes on inside them. They’ve got this picture of a prison guard standing on a tower with a gun.
‘We would much rather that they come and have a look at the variety of different prison officer jobs there are.’
Job-seekers beware; prospective employees of the Cayman Islands prison system will face much stricter on-the-job evaluations in the future.
All new hires will be required to complete what’s known as the vocational qualification in custodial care within two years of being hired. Mr. Rattray said the evaluation would be done by an assessor that would determine an employee’s competence.
Certificates of competence in custodial care will be awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
‘We will be able to measure the competence of our workforce,’ Mr. Rattray said.
The vocational qualification will not be mandatory for current prison staff.