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FEATURE It’s A Dirty Job

Although ‘dirty protests’ are a rarity in prison these days, when they happen, they pose a serious health risk to prison staff and other inmates. But BICSc, in partnership with HMP Cardiff, have introduced a new scheme to not only clean up these protests, but also help some prisoners step on the road to rehabilitation.

Within the prison service dirty protests are a rare occurrence, but when they happen, they disrupt the routine of the prison care, separation and hospital units, which are usually where these types of protests happen. They may happen because the prisoner is protesting about a particular issue, however sadly it may be due to more serious issues linked to the prisoner’s mental health. When these protests happen, the prison has a duty of care to relocate the prisoner to a clean cell. The contaminated cell is then cordoned off until it can be cleaned.

Piloting The New SU2 Skill Over the past year HMP Cardiff have been asked many times to clean this type of protest, but until BICSc had piloted the SU2 Biohazard Decontamination Cleaning skill there were too many risks to allow a cleaning operative to enter into this situation.

Three prisoners and Melanie Kelly, BICSc Workshop Instructor at HMP Cardiff, took part in the pilot scheme that was set up by Maureen Kelso, Head of Education and Standards at BICSc, and Lesley Parish, Verification & Project Co-ordinator, also at BICSc. The pilot scheme was set up to support prisoners in attaining their SU2 Biohazard Decontamination Cleaning qualification.

The scheme has had a positive impact on the prisoners, with one commenting: “I have found that through the SU2 Biohazard Decontamination Cleaning skill, I have learned the correct procedure of how to clean and eliminate biological substances that pose a threat to


our health, and I have also learnt how important it is to leave areas hygienically clean and safe, and that all contaminated items are disposed of in the correct manner.

“Doing my BICSc Cleaning Professional's Skills Suite and the Specialist SU2 Biohazard Decontamination Cleaning skill has motivated me to want to start my own business. I look forward to making the most of the newly found skills and knowledge I now have in the future."

Newfound Knowledge

And Potential The most important rule is ensuring the safety and health of the person cleaning the area. At no time are they rushed, even if the cell is needed, and they must follow the process completely so that they are not compromised at any stage during the cleaning procedure. With the risk of possible contamination being so high, not completing the task properly would leave the area potentially compromised. It is therefore crucial that a professional, safe and thorough clean is performed.

Not all prisoners can cope with this type of cleaning, however, and the prisoners who do put themselves forward have carefully considered what this course involves and the potential risks. They are very committed to attaining their qualification, and most hope to attain work in this field when they are released. Melanie Kelly said: “From my point of view, as a Vocational Instructor, this is what my job is all about. I will have been able to equip a prisoner with the means of supporting himself and his

family, which significantly adds to the rehabilitation process.

“It has been fantastic to add an additional Specialist unit to the BICSc qualifications that were already offered at HMP Cardiff, particularly one that adds both value to the prisoner’s rehabilitation process and increases their chances of securing employment upon release, but also enables them to play an active and important role within the operation of the prison.”

Greg Fisher, Industries Manager at HMP Cardiff, added: “Having prisoners up-skilled to undertake this kind of work within the prison has really changed other prisoners’ perceptions and behaviour, this is because they realise that their fellow prisoners will be involved in cleaning up any situation that they cause. Working with an innovative organisation such as BICS, and having passionate workshop instructors like Melanie has enabled us to do something really positive and exciting at HMP Cardiff."

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