Milton Keynes prison officer who was a hero in the London Bridge terrorist attack encourages others to join the service

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A Woodhill prison officer who was hailed a hero in the London Bridge terrorist attack has spoken out about why he loves his job – and is encouraging others to join.

Officer Adam Roberts, 31, was escorting convicted murderer Steve Gallant to a day release conference in London at the time the terrifying attack happened.

The pair reached London Bridge just as convicted terrorist Usman Khan had stabbed five people, two of them fatally, and was running loose.

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Steve Gallant was one of several civilians who intervened to chase Khan on to London Bridge and drag him to the ground near Fishmongers' Hall, where police shot him dead.

Milton Keynes prison officer Adam RobertsMilton Keynes prison officer Adam Roberts
Milton Keynes prison officer Adam Roberts

Meanwhile Officer Roberts carried out emergency first aid in a desperate bid to save the life of one of Khan’s victims, Saskia Jones.

Sadly, Ms Jones died but afterwards the prison officer and his prisoner were both recognised by the Queen for their bravery on the day.

Mr Gallant, who was given a Queen's Gallantry Medal, was later freed from prison on licence.

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Today Officer Roberts, who lives in Milton Keynes, looks back on the fateful day of the attack with mixed feelings. "It finished with Saskia literally dying in front of me as we tried to keep her alive, so it's really difficult to celebrate at all when my thoughts are with her,” he said after he received his medal.

The Woodhill prison officer from Milton Keynes was hailed a hero after the London Bridge terrorist attack in 2019The Woodhill prison officer from Milton Keynes was hailed a hero after the London Bridge terrorist attack in 2019
The Woodhill prison officer from Milton Keynes was hailed a hero after the London Bridge terrorist attack in 2019

But he still loves his job and is calling for more people to consider joining the prison service.

Now Custodial Manager in Safer Custody at high security Woodhill, he said: “Being a prison officer is about being a bit of everything to everyone. One minute you are the counsellor and a shoulder to cry on, the next you are the peacekeeper.

“Above all, the most important skill is the ability to able to talk to people. No matter what someone has done in the past to you or someone else, you need to be able to put that aside and treat them with decency and integrity to try to help them.”

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He added: “I didn’t know much about the prison service before I started, but I liked the idea of working in a uniformed service. While there are lots of videos you can watch online, nothing really prepares you for the reality of what it’s actually like working on the Wings.

“As a Custodial Manager in Safer Custody I manage the department within HMP Woodhill that is responsible for keeping prisoners safe from themselves and each other – and I love it. My advice would be if you are thinking about joining the service - just do it. You won’t really know if it’s for you until you’ve experienced it.”

You do not need qualifications to become a prison officer or to join in a support staff role. HMP Woodhill is looking for compassionate, creative people, like Officer Roberts, with excellent communication skills who can make decisions effectively.

New prison officer recruits start on a salary of £34,402 and full training will be given. To find out more visit here.