Serco prison Director named as Public Servant of the Year
Date: 24 Nov 2010
John Biggin, Director of HM Prison and Young Offender Institution Doncaster, has been named Public Servant of the Year at the 2010 Guardian Public Service Awards. He was selected from a strong field of nominated candidates from across the public sector for his work in improving performance at Doncaster and at Serco-run HMP Lowdham Grange near Nottingham. The award, sponsored by Unison, was given as a result of a nationwide public vote.
John was nominated for his dedication to improving the prison system, and his emphasis on the getting prisoners to take responsibility for their lives. His approach is to encourage offenders to take part in activities to improve their education and stop them from returning to crime. He has developed schemes to improve family links, and to engage prisoners in sports, arts and media. He has involved local enterprises in working with young offenders and offering workshops to help them re-integrate into the community. John also places a great emphasis on the development of his staff and has a fully supportive team behind him at HMP Doncaster.
Tom Riall, Chief Executive of Serco Civil Government, said:
"This is a most outstanding achievement and I am immensely proud of John. It is well deserved recognition of the fantastic work he has done at Doncaster and Lowdham Grange to improve performance and help to turn offenders' lives around."
"John's achievements at both prisons are the result of some fantastic teamwork, and credit is due to all the staff at those establishments. They deserve this welcome recognition of the great work they do to make a real difference to people's lives. Their innovation and hard work is helping to reduce re-offending and ultimately make our communities safer places to live in."
John Biggin has worked in prisons for 25 years, starting as a prison officer and working his way up to Director. One of his most successful achievements has been a family-based project which helps prisoners to engage and maintain family ties, recognised as a key factor in keeping them away from crime on release. When families come to visit, they are in an environment that encourages them to talk to each other. The successful arts and media initiative allows offenders to act in plays within the prison encouraging them to develop their team work skills and help build their confidence. Plays have included Restored, about restorative justice, which was devised in order to make prisoners think about their victims. They were invited inside the prison to attend the performance.
Alongside these innovative schemes, Biggin operates a zero-tolerance policy with regards to drugs and violence, which has led to the lowest levels of violence within HMP Doncaster for 16 years, creating a period of stability.
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