National Apprenticeship Week, 6-12 February 2023
Dave Hopper, 44, joined professional services giant Mitie as a Detainee Custody Officer in 2020 having previously worked for Kent Police and in the retail, hospitality and logistics industries.
The company’s care and custody division is the largest provider of immigration services for the Home Office, providing care for 13,000 detainees across the UK and overseas.
Dave completed a Custody and Detention Officer Level 3 Apprenticeship in February 2022 and has since been promoted to the role of Detainee Custody Officer Manager.
“At the time the apprenticeship was a part of our training package. I believe greatly in training and relished the challenge,” he said.
“I saw the opportunity to gain skills, experience and ultimately an official qualification. It was a great course that allowed me to work a pace that suited me around my day job.
“The apprenticeship compounds the on-the-job learning by putting it on paper and demonstrating your understanding. It helped me to understand my role better as a Detainee Custody Officer and gave me the confidence to apply for promotion.”
Dave also used the opportunity of returning to college to gain Functional Skills qualifications in English and maths having mislaid his exam certificates from school.
He had no hesitation in recommending CCCT and praised his trainer Sandeep Patel who was “brilliant, supportive and easy to talk to,” from the outset of his apprenticeship.
Dave is primarily responsible for returning people who no longer have leave to remain in the UK and providing them with care and welfare support while they are in custody.
“No person is the same and their circumstances can be very different. Each job has its challenges, and you often have to wear several hats – custodian, authoritarian, shoulder to cry on, a friendly face and someone to offload on,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a cliche but no two days are the same. You can turn up expecting one thing based on your risk assessment and find completely the opposite.”
Dave advised anyone looking at a career as a custody officer needs to have the ability or be able to gain the skills to think outside the box and manage people effectively.
The Custody and Detention Officer Level 3 Apprenticeship covers the role of a custody officer, policies and procedures, security and violence reduction, patterns of behaviour, recognising and understanding mental health issues, caring for the vulnerable, undertaking searches and health and safety.
“There’s a lot to gain from completing an apprenticeship. You’ll learn new skills meet new people, it’ll help you enhance your skills and knowledge and at the end you’ll have some new qualifications to further your career,” said Dave.
“There’s no doubt it assisted me in my promotion to management.”