Boggo Road Staff

Nov 4, 2015 0 comments
The role of prison officer can be difficult and demanding but has sometimes seemed controversial in public opinion. The truth is that prison officers are like any other group in society and include a wide range of personalities, blending disciplinarian and humanitarian approaches. The demands of the job have changed over the years in line with changing prison practices, but a tremendous sense of camaraderie has survived within the ranks.

The last officers leave work on the last day of No.1 Division, Boggo Road, 31 July 1992. (BRGHS)
‘Warder’ or ‘Officer’? - Staff Terminology
Prison officers have been known by a number of official and unofficial titles over the years, which has led to occasional confusion for researchers. Those names include: 

  • Dubsman: An early 19th-century name derived from the slang term 'dub' (key). To 'dub up' was to lock or secure something in place. To undub was to unlock it. 
  • Turnkey: A 19th-century term obviously derived from the nature of the work itself. 
  • Screw: A slang term for officers recorded as far back as 1812, and at Boggo Road in 1907. Still in use, and often used by old-school officers when referring to each other. 
  • Gaoler: 'Gaol' is the original English term for 'jail', derived from the Old French. 'Jail' is the Americanised version of the word. In the 1850s the term 'Gaoler' was applied to the man in charge of the gaol (later to become 'governor' and then 'chief superintendent'). Those who worked under him were the turnkeys, with the second-in-charge being the chief turnkey. This title survived until the late 19th century. In Queensland, ‘gaols’ officially became known as ‘prisons’ in the 1890s. 
  • Warder: This name comes from the days when most prisons were made up of communal wards instead of separate cells, and was used colloquially well into the 20th century. 
  • Officer: The modern term, although it has evolved from 'Prison Officer' to the more recent 'Custodial Correctional Officer'. 
The following list is a 'work in progress' and will be added to over time:
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