I have worked at HMI Prisons for three years as a core inspector (meaning I can inspect all areas of a prison). Before I joined, I worked for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) for 14 years and when I left I was on the senior leadership team at a young offenders institution (YOI) in London, overseeing safeguarding, child protection, violence reduction, suicide prevention and use of force. I had been in this role for four years and was looking for something different but in which I could still retain contact with prisons, gain a wide breadth of knowledge and make a difference to outcomes for prisoners. Working as an inspector at HMI Prisons was the perfect role.

My background has allowed me to appreciate how challenging a custodial environment can be for everyone involved. Being able to work under substantial time pressure during inspections is important – we are at a prison for four or five days but have to inspect every aspect of it, from reception to cells to education to facilities – and the ability to make sound, evidence-based judgements is a skill I have been able to draw on from my previous role. My experience in a YOI is helpful for understanding the needs of young adult women in women’s sites and young adults located in the adult estate.

Respect and humility are important traits to have as an inspector and I try to bring them into everything I do. I love this role and feel honored to do it. There is no doubt that having opportunities to visit so many different types of custodial environments, and learn, share best practice and speak to staff and prisoners, is an absolute privilege.

On a personal note I have really enjoyed working for HMI Prisons. I have two young children, so a positive work-life balance is important to me. Working away from home is tough: I go on around 17 inspections a year, all across the country, and they involve long hours. I do lots of planning and use post-it notes to make sure everyone is catered for! In return, I have found the flexibility I have for my family life during the weeks I work at home to be invaluable.