One of UKs youngest police officers deals with men 2ft taller and twice her age

One of UK's youngest female prison officers revealed how she deals with inmates double her age.

Emily was just 20 when she first started working at men's prison HMP Bedford which made her the youngest female officer on site.

The 22-year-old loves the job despite being "screamed and shouted at constantly" by inmates on some days.

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Her most difficult moments was telling an entire wing of prisoners family visitation time was cancelled due to an unforeseen issue.

She said it was "emotionally draining" and left some prisoners fuming and self-harming.

Emily, who works with men waiting to be sentenced, said rude comments are common but training helped her "establish herself".

She said small wins like getting a thank you card from a leaving inmate keep her going.

Also she claimed helping to look after category B prisoners made her more confident and stronger.

Emily revealed: "It's one of the most challenging choices I could have made – there are days where I sit and think 'what am I doing?'.

"But it's so rewarding – and I feel I'm so much stronger, more confident and resilient. It's taught me to see a whole different side to the world and nothing else compares to that.

"I was warned before I started that it's a 'sink or swim' type of job. It does take a lot of confidence as a young female telling men double my age – and a foot or two taller than me – what they can and can't do."

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Emily joined a scheme called Unlocked Graduates to get the job in 2021.

"I came in with three other females, but I was the youngest. I was actually surprised by how confident I was when I first started," Emily added.

"I knew I would have to be. Even then, everyone warned me the first three to six months would be tough and they were."

She said she talks about movies and video games to build a rapport with offenders and to get respect.

But initially she's attracted many comments about her age, but she was pre-trained to deal with any instances of sexism.

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She admitted: "Rude comments are a reality in a male prison, but not so much once you establish yourself. I never faced anything I didn't feel prepared to challenge."

And her high-pressure job can be "emotionally draining" as there's days she needs to take a minute to calm down.

But her best moments have been when people tell her they're looking forward to the one-to-one sessions she runs.

She added: "When a prisoner tells you they're looking forward to opening up to someone about their feelings, it feels like you're making a real difference."

"We're not here to judge, so whenever someone is willing to work with us, they get the same respect back. Often prisoners are very open about their past and crimes. There are moments where you do start to see mindsets changing and they see a different point of view which is great."

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