Sunday, 22 February 2015

Unique Practitioners Part V: Goz Gozwellings- P1

Goz Gozwellings is a Krav Maga practioner with KMM, practicing at the Solihull and King's Heath branches of the club. She also works in an all male prison.

"So how long have you been a member of Krav Maga Midlands?"

"Since a year last November."

"What do you do for a living?"

"I work in the prison service. I'm custodial manager rank, which is the equivalent of an Inspector in the English police. I line manage 25 prison guards directly and I work in the security and intelligence department so I also run the gaol on a rota basis. The prison has over 1000 category B and C prisoners, so I have to run a prison with that many people."

"Do you ever have to go hands on with the prisoners? To be in actual physical contact with them?"

"Yes, you do. We're trained in control and restraint which are techniques we have to refresh every year. The aim now is also on de-escalation techniques rather than going hands on but even putting a "hand on" as in putting a hand on someone to make them move is classed as physical contact and we have to fill out paperwork to justify it. At my rank I normally turn up at the end and oversee the incident and assess what's going on."

"Just to set the scene for those reading this, how tall are you?"

"I like to kid myself I'm 5 feet 4, but I'm really five two if I'm lucky."

"What category prisoners do you deal with?"

"We take all sorts. Some times we get uncategorised prisoners and they get cat A. That's the highest security prisoner you can get. Highest risk to the public. As a rule we're category B which is one down from maximum security. We have remand, sentenced, lifers. We have cat D who return because they fail their open conditions. We can have every type of prisoner. It's a very mixed population."

"With over 1000 prisoners, how many guards work in the prison on a shift?"

"Well, the unit I used to run holds 200 prisoners and and you'd normally work an SO, Senior Officer, and five. Quite often when I was a prison officer you'd get me on a spur which is half of a landing and there'd be me to about 60 which is quite average."

"Have you had any physical attacks or altercations with prisoners?"

"Yeah, I mean I've been lucky I've been in the job 12 years but I've been involved in control and restraint of prisoners. I've had prisoners square up to me. In my job, unlike in Krav, I try to use a lot of de-escalation. Sometimes you're on your own when the altercation occurs. So, over the years I've been involved in all sorts."

"Do you carry batons?"

"Yes we do. We carry the big extendable batons which are similar to the police. We don't have any CS or gas, or any stab vests or anything like that. Now the population has changed there's a lot of hand made weapons on the units, a lot of drug use so we're dealing with the same people that the police are outside but without the equipment. That's why we do have to rely on de-escalation. Also we work in closed spaces so if you're in a cell you wouldn't be able to use gas anyway. Pepper spray is used very rarely if the National Tactical Group are called in, if we have a situation that we can't deal with locally. I've been involved in hostage situation where three prisoners are in a cell or behind a barricade and we have had to use pava."

"Why did you take up Krav?"

"I always wanted to do a martial art but I didn't know what. For about 10 years I've been talking about it. It was originally nothing to do with the job. I'm a bit of a rough and tumble person, although contrary to belief I'm not actually a very aggressive person. I don't like fighting. So it's for my own personal fitness, my own personal protection but also it has changed the way I look at things at work now. So if I was on my own I wouldn't think twice to use Krav now rather than control and restraint because you can't do it with a group of people so it's more practical which is why I like it. In a cell no situation is the same. You've got bunk beds, you've got furniture, maybe weapons all sorts. It's all risk assessed but spontaneous stuff isn't, you just react."

"So has Krav helped you at work?"

"I'm more conscious now of people behind me when I'm on walkways for example. I move and scan more. When we did our last control and restraint refresher, which we do yearly, I realised just how much more practical Krav is. I work with a lot of female officers in a male prison. So the obvious thing is to disable a threat quickly. If I was on my own and I felt threatened I would use Krav now."

"The motto is 'So that one may walk in peace' after all"

"Yes, it's down to perception. My colleagues and even the prisoners now think I can take care of myself. It's part of it, how you carry yourself. It's about perception and someone backing off and leaving you alone."

"You have all male prisoners. How many of the staff are female?"

"There's a lot more now but it's still very male orientated. It used to be a job that people went into from the army. That's changed now, it's more about people skills. I also find that in a male prison, women tend to keep the peace better. As a rule prisoners are more respectful of females. When you're like me you can be an authority or mother figure. Some of them have never had the word 'no' said to them before and they've got no boundaries so you're having to almost parent some of the prisoners."

"That's interesting because I would have imagined it would be a lot of wolf whistling."

"You do get that as well. You get a lot of inappropriate behaviour and you have to obviously stamp that out and challenge it because if you don't you know that there'll play on that. They know that I'm not somebody who's easily intimidated."

"Do you think that Krav Maga should be taught to new people coming into the prison service?"

"Yes, I do. It's a lot more practical. Apart from control and restraint we also do breakaway and personal protection. For the staff and civilians it would be so much more practical. Even if it was just to shout "GET BACK!" with a knee or a kick. It's very practical and that's what I like about Krav."

"Why do you think this country has such a 'softly, softly' approach to use of force, both in the police and the prison service?"

"In this job there will always be staff who take it too far and they can almost be barbaric. They use excessive force when they don't need to and because of things that have happened in the past such as prisoners who've gone on to commit suicide or control and restraint that's gone wrong. I think that's why it changed. People can asphyxiate if they're in the wrong position. Every year our syllabus gets changed. There's techniques they take out because they're considered indecent. It's a fine line. Also there's a lot of paperwork now."

"Finally, what would your motto for life be?"

"Feel the fear, do it anyway. Push past it. I'm six feet tall in my head."

** Photos by Lance Manley and Krav Maga Midlands.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have your say....