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COMMENDEE 2021-22: Daniel’s Commendation is for his remarkable “courage”, “calm”, and “compassion”, and his willingness to “go the extra mile” – even learning Spanish to communicate better with one man – as an Officer on HMP Liverpool’s Care & Separation Unit.

The courage of a lion’

Working on HMP Liverpool’s Care & Separation Unit (CSU) – which is designed to help disruptive prisoners back into a more normal regime – outbreaks of trouble, potential or actual, are by definition common. It’s also a busy ‘local’ prison, with all sorts of offenders washing through, and so the ability to diffuse tension can be vital to stopping a tense moment becoming an outbreak of violence. Danny clearly has this gift in spades.

Danny’s Butler Trust Award nominator, CSU Custodial Manager Daniel Thornley, says that, as well as his “calm under pressure” and having “the courage of a lion”, Danny’s work – which clearly makes the lives of his colleagues and those he supervises safer – is done “without looking for praise or recognition but simply because this is who he is. And because he knows it’s the right thing to do.”

Daniel cites a notable case of Danny’s approach to his work with a Spanish-speaking prisoner who spoke no English. It’s a case also mentioned in further testimonials by many of his other colleagues, too, as exemplifying the core of Danny’s approach. An approach that demonstrates how a driver that seems to underlie Danny’s work is the kind of empathy and compassion which he uses to inform and empower his approach.

This prisoner was engaged in repeated and highly disruptive behaviour, from destroying furniture and dirty protests to throwing urine at staff. There were also concerns for his mental health, but he refused interventions by the health team. Nor would he engage with Big Word, Liverpool’s translation team.

Many of the men that Danny’s unit deals will have been involved in an incident and may have been restrained, too. Yet as Danny notes,  “they may not have experienced this before and it must be a scary and chaotic experience for them.” In the Spanish national’s case, adds Danny, “I thought about how intimidating it must be, with his language, not understanding where he was or what was happening.”

Danny tried Google Translate as a way to simply explain some of the procedures and processes – but the printout he offered the prisoner was screwed up and thrown back. Danny would later learn that the prisoner could neither read or write and, like so many in this situation, was both embarrassed and angry about this.

And so Danny did something remarkable: he started to learn Spanish online at home. Starting with just a few phrases to hand, he was able to connect with the prisoner. Soon they were teaching each other phrases from their language. The prisoner began to smile, to engage, to talk to those serving him his food. A life – and the life of those around him – was changed, and changed for the better. Now, says Danny, the prisoner has transformed into “a likeable and bubbly character.”

Deputy Governor David McGurrell talks of Danny’s “great courage and humility”, and adds that Liverpool “is lucky to have him.” Liverpool’s Laura Dykta, meanwhile, is particularly eloquent about Danny’s quiet but very real effectiveness:

Sometimes the staff that have the most impact on you are the ones that you don’t actually know that well, people that impress you because you don’t hear their names being mentioned all the time, but every time you interact with them they are doing something out of the ordinary. This is the impact that Danny Crawley has on those around him. Working in an area which can be highly volatile, for someone large in stature all you ever see from him is a calm and respectful nature, exuding confidence in himself and others but without arrogance or looking for any kind of plaudits. A highly respected member of staff.”

That wide respect among his colleagues is abundantly clear in Danny’s nomination papers, and as Liverpool’s Governor Mark Livingston points out, “the work Danny does in the Care and Separation Unit is really quite extraordinary.” Noting that Liverpooil’s CSU is “really, really good” anyway, the Governor says that, in order to stand out as Danny does, “you really need to be an exceptional individual.” Mark concludes by saying that what he has witnessed in Danny, “first-hand, time and time again is truly the work of a hidden hero – someone who embodies every quality we would want from a modern Prison Officer.”

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