X Factor star Sam Bailey: ‘Being a prison officer is tough. But I miss it every day’ | Erwin James

My former colleagues do extraordinary work under extreme pressure, says the X Factor winner and former guard. They deserve our recognition – and respect

Before Sam Bailey won the 2013 X Factor final, she had been patrolling the landings and corridors of HMP Gartree, a life-sentence prison in Leicestershire, for three years. “I didn’t really do a lot of singing at work – though I did sing down the corridors sometimes as the acoustics were great. When all the prisoners were locked up I used to sing as I patrolled the corridors. I loved it. But then obviously I needed some time off for the audition. I ended up owing hours which I had to pay back. When I won the X Factor I had a letter from the prison saying I owed them money.”

Related: The graduates training as prison officers: ‘People think we just turn keys and shout orders’

On the night that I won the X Factor, the whole prison was banging on their cell doors. Can you imagine that?

Related: UK high-security prisons lose one in four officers under Conservatives

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