Prison officer receives commendation

by Mike Isle

Gary Smallridge, a principal corrections officer at Christchurch Men’s Prison, has been awarded a Corrections Chief Executive’s Commendation for his work in the prison’s youth unit.

Gary, who was one of the organisers of the prison marathon featured in last week’s Record, received his award at a ceremony on January 19 attended by family and friends.

Acting prison director, David Patterson, paid tribute to Gary and his team and their efforts to connect and engage with the young men in the youth unit.

“They have built strong relationships across the prison and partnering agencies, and these have resulted in a wideranging programme that is making significant changes in the lives of these young men, which helps to keep our communities safer.

“Youth prisoners can present different challenges, and Gary will say that on the whole, the boys in the unit are good boys who have made bad choices. Gary wants to help them make better choices in the future. He is firm, fair and well respected for that.

“This award is richly deserved.”

Gary says the award is a tribute to all the staff in the unit and the commitment of the young men in their care.

”Working in the youth unit is extremely rewarding and challenging,” he says. “Through our work, we are able to help these young men to develop the skills and self-belief that will lead them to make better decisions in future.”