A COUPLE has shared what it’s like working together behind the prison walls at HMP Berwyn.

Luke Gardner and his partner Charlotte Owen work together at the Wrexham jail and are encouraging jobseekers to consider joining the prison service to protect the public and support prisoners through their rehabilitation. 

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, the couple - who are due to be married next year - revealed what it’s like to work at the Category C prison in Wrexham, where they both met six years ago.

Luke joined HMP Berwyn as a prison officer in 2016 having completed a university degree in Law. 

He spent two years working as a prison officer before switching to a non-operational role as a Business Hub Manager.

The 30-year-old said: “After finishing university I realised I didn’t have the funds to pursue a legal career, so I needed to get a job pretty sharpish. 

"I saw an advert for a prison officer job, which was local to me in Wrexham, and fortunately I applied and got the role. 

“When I first started as a prison officer, I got sent to a few other prisons on detached duty – including in Birmingham and London – to help them to deal with specific high-profile incidents. 

"These were great experiences as I got a real understanding of what being a prison officer is about.

"I saw first-hand how someone who takes this job seriously can make a difference to other people’s lives. 

"That’s where it started for me – I knew the prison service would be something I’d do for the rest of my life, and it’s been a pretty good career so far.” 

Charlotte joined HMP Berwyn in 2017 having previously studied hairdressing in college. 

She credits her mother, who also works at HMP Berwyn, as the reason she decided to opt for a career in the prison service.

The 25-year-old, who works in an administration role, said: "Once I’d qualified as a hairdresser I found it tricky to find a job and the wages weren’t very good. 

"My mum worked at HMP Berwyn in a HR role, so she encouraged me to consider joining the prison service. 

“It’s nice having both my mum and Luke working in the same place, particularly if you need to get advice.

"When I first joined HMP Berwyn, I was very new to office work, so I would often seek my mum’s help if I wasn’t sure about something. 

“Luke and I try to keep our work and home life distinct. And despite working in the same office, we work in different areas – for example, he works with prisoners, whereas I support staff - so we can keep things separate. 

"When we are at home, we don’t really discuss work.”

His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), part of the Ministry of Justice, has launched a major new advertising campaign to tackle recruitment and retention, by showing the reality of working in a prison and the people who fulfil these roles. 

The campaign – which has launched on TV and radio across parts of England and Wales where the recruitment challenge is greatest – features voices from serving prison officers and aims to challenge some of the misconceptions associated with working on the prison wings.

Speaking about what skills it takes to be a prison officer Luke, whose mother also works at HMP Berwyn as a workshop administrator, explained: "For me, to be a prison officer, you need a high level of integrity.

"You need to be someone who, when they say they are going to do something, gets on and does it. 


"That’s one of the most important things for me when it comes to building professional relationships with prisoners and work colleagues. You need that honesty about you. 

“Good communication skills are also vital."

Charlotte added: "I would certainly recommend the prison service to others – there are so many opportunities and it’s a job for life.

"You have job security – which is really comforting to know – and there is a great pension and benefits.”