Kellie Reeve's story

I’m an inspector with HMI Prisons, on secondment from the Prison Service for three years, with 11 years’ experience as a prison officer and manager.

Having worked for six years in one prison in many different roles, I needed a change. I had a governor who was supportive of non-operational roles in terms of professional development. It wasn’t something I was initially open to, as I loved my work. He suggested I look at what the inspectorate was doing. Having been inspected and taken the feedback about my areas of responsibility, I thought I’d still be working in a prison. I wouldn’t be sat in an office not having contact with the people I really enjoyed working with – prisoners and staff.

When the advert came out, I thought: I’ll give it a go. I know people can get anxious about inspections but I always approached them as a health check. It’s the way you deliver feedback, rather than the feedback you deliver. If you show a bit of humility, acknowledge that it’s easier to inspect than it is to manage a prison, and acknowledge that we don’t necessarily have to take into account the financial implications that prisons do, then it’s doable. You have to explain that the inspectorate comes from a human rights position, and deliver feedback in a sensitive way. I thought I could do that.

I love working with the inspectorate - with like-minded individuals who have the rights and individual needs of prisoners at heart and want to ensure people are treated properly. Working with staff from different backgrounds - such as health care and substance misuse specialists - gives you a different perspective and a holistic understanding of a prison which you may not necessarily get if you’re a prison manager.

The travelling is a consideration. Some people are real home bodies, so this may not suit them. Travelling around enables you to see good practice and share best practice. You meet lots of different people and share their experiences. I’m convinced it makes you a better Prison Service Manager at the end of it.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons


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