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When you help others make better choices, be appreciated for it.

Prison Officers. You at your best.

Working in a prison is no ordinary job. But if you have what it takes, it could be a very rewarding career. To begin with - depending on your contracted hours – prison officer jobs attract potential starting salaries of up to £30,000 in London, £27,688 in the South East, and £23,052 in most other locations. (See FAQs for details.) In addition, you’ll receive a number of benefits including a pension and the ability to earn through overtime.

Here, you’ll discover more about our recruitment process. It’ll tell you what we look for in our prison officers, as well as help you understand what you’ll do and what you’ll gain from the role.

What is HM Prison & Probation Service?

What is HMPPS?

What is HM Prison & Probation Service?

 

Created in April 2017, Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) is a new agency in the Ministry of Justice, covering 121 prisons and employing over 42,000 staff. Our mission: to drive the biggest reform of our prison system in a generation. Across the UK, we're committed to improving how we rehabilitate offenders and protect the public. 

We want to build real pride in the prison service and make it a place where ambitious professionals thrive. By applying to a local prison, you'll become part of a major organisation that invests in people. And for our prison officers, that means creating opportunities for higher pay, recognition and development through our promotion, leadership and apprenticeship programmes.

The role

The role

As a prison officer, your career can take you in many different directions. Developing your skills from day one, the chances to move into new areas will always be there. You could be on a residential wing, in reception, in the segregation unit, working with vulnerable prisoners, with mothers and babies, or on the healthcare unit. 

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What else is in it for you?

Training

Training

You'll spend your first week of training in your establishment meeting your future colleagues and learning about our routine. After this week, you'll start on our Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) course. On this comprehensive training programme (which is either residential or local depending on your location) you'll develop the interpersonal skills that will help you manage people in custody.

You'll also learn techniques that prepare you for any situation in a dynamic prison environment, including search and security procedures as well as control and restraint techniques. At the end of this course, you will complete the Skills For Justice (SFJ) Level 3 Diploma  in the management and care of individuals in the custodial environment. You will also have the opportunity to participate in more training as you progress through the Service.

Benefits
See a prison officer talk about the rewarding aspects of the job

By taking on such responsibility for our prisoners and the public, it’s only right that you’re recognised for your work, and there’s no doubt that this role is well rewarded.

In addition to your salary (see FAQs) you’ll join the Civil Service pension scheme. You will also receive a number of other benefits, including 25 days’ holiday allowance each year, childcare vouchers, season ticket loans, retail discounts, Employee Assistance Programme and Cycle to Work scheme.

Talk to us on Facebook to find out more.

The recruitment process

Our process has been designed to make applying for a role as easy and efficient as possible. Each step of the journey will allow you to demonstrate your unique skills and qualities, and give us a greater insight into the kind of prisoner officer you could be.

Are you eligible?

First, you'll need to meet our essential criteria, which includes having the right to work in the UK. Beyond that, we'll check things like your eyesight and physical fitness. We'll also expect you to pass a basic maths test and demonstrate the personal qualities we're looking for, when you come in for an assessment day.
These tests aren't just to make the selection process easier. They're designed to make sure you have the right skills and attitude to get the most from the role. You can get a sense of what each test involves by downloading the practice tests on the links below.

Find out more

Rebecca's story: being a prison officer
Rebecca's story: being a prison officer75 days ago
Leigh's story: being a prison officer
Leigh's story: being a prison officer 75 days ago
Johnny's story: being a prison officer
Johnny's story: being a prison officer 75 days ago
Jonny's story: my life as a prison officer
Jonny's story: my life as a prison officer 84 days ago
Leigh's story: my life as a prison officer
Leigh's story: my life as a prison officer 84 days ago
Rebecca's story: my life as a prison officer
Rebecca's story: my life as a prison officer 84 days ago
HM Prison and Probation Service – A new agency
HM Prison and Probation Service – A new agency 87 days ago
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Frequently Asked Questions

You don’t need any specific qualifications for this role. We’re much more interested in your personal qualities and life experience.

Yes, you will be provided with a uniform.

With continued investment in training, we’ve increased prison officer training to 12 weeks: 10 weeks of that is the Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) course and weeks 1 and 12 are hosted by the home establishment.

Week 1 provides new officers with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the establishment layout, the role of the establishment and the work they will be expected to carry out after training. Week 2-11 is formal training which is delivered at one of a number of training sites across England and Wales; this is known as Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT).

On successful completion of the formal training new officers will return to their establishment for week 12 where they will have a consolidation week, this gives them the opportunity to apply the learning from formal training.

The course combines a mixture of theory and practice-based classroom and dojo activities, each session within the course aims to give new officers a knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • Health and safety responsibilities
  • Organisational, legal and moral responsibility to those in custody
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Safer custody in custodial environments
  • Offending behaviour and methods for reducing re-offending
  • Operating safely
  • Operating securely
  • Recording and reporting
  • Use of force
  • Searching individuals
  • Escorting
  • Pro-social behaviour in working relationships with individuals

New officers are continually assessed during the course using a range of different practical and written assessment methods. All assessments are designed to test skills and to check knowledge, for example the practical assessments aim to demonstrate competence in:

  • Radio procedures and urgent message
  • Rub down searching
  • Full search
  • Cell searching
  • Handcuffing
  • Accommodation fabric check
  • Roll checks
  • Locking and unlocking

During the course new officers will be required to complete the SFJ Level 3 Diploma in the management and care of individuals in the custodial environment.

The main objective of this qualification is to provide them with the knowledge, and many of the skills, required to work in custodial environments.

It is a requirement that they complete this qualification during the POELT course in order to take up full duties as a prison officer.

In order to gain the qualification, they must successfully complete:

  • A written final summative assessment paper (knowledge & scenario-based questioning)
  • 12 knowledge-based work books (Level 3 qualification)
  • A range of practical skills assessments (Level 3 qualification)
  • Use of force - theory and practical (Level 3 qualification)
  • Demonstrating and maintaining professional standards

They are also required to complete the following:

  • Work with others to produce a work-based project
  • A weekly personal development journal
  • A range of personal reflection records

Prison officers can opt to work either a 37, 39 or 41 hour week. You will work on a rolling shift pattern, usually of 39 hours, which includes some nights and some weekends and some public and bank holidays (any public or bank holidays you work will be added to your annual leave allowance – find out more below).

Your salary will be dependent on the number of hours you work. You will have the opportunity to work overtime in certain circumstances.

Work/life balance options such as part-time hours and job shares are also available, subject to completion of your 10-week full-time POELT course and induction.

As a prison officer, even if you never go for promotion, your career can take you in many different directions. As you will have read under ‘The role’, there are a lot of different areas where you can develop your career. All of these responsibilities require different skills. If you want to specialise further, you’ll have the opportunity to train to become a physical education officer, a dog handler, or, when you look back and remember the people who first helped you along – perhaps become a trainer yourself.

Working closely with your team, you'll have a number of key responsibilities that make rehabilitation possible. The first one's pretty obvious: You'll make sure the prison is safe and secure, and that all offenders are accounted for. Beyond that, it'll be up to you to supervise daily routines, giving offenders much-needed structure in their lives. You'll also act as a role model, doing what you can to encourage constructive choices. There'll definitely be days when you feel more like a guard than a guardian of change. But imagine the sense of satisfaction that'll come from helping people turn their lives around.

Salaries in Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) vary between different grades, areas and individual prisons. To find out what you could earn depending on your situation, download the PDF below.

Prison Officer salaries – more information (pdf, 205kb)

For example, a prison officer working 39 hours a week in the types of prisons listed below could earn the following when they start:

At one of the 4 Inner London prisons, £31,014 (a base salary of £28,014 + an allowance of £3,000) with a pension and benefits

At one of the Outer London prisons, between £31,453 and £29,453 (a base salary of £26,453 + an allowance of either £5,000 or £3,000) with a pension and benefits

At one of 17 prisons across the South and South-East £26,456 (a base salary of £23,456 + an allowance of £3,000) with pension and benefits

Elsewhere in England and Wales, £21,902 with pension and benefits.

It takes a special kind of person to be a great prison officer, but if you have the right skills it could be one of the most life-changing moves you’ve ever made. If you've been through the site and feel ready to start a rewarding new profession, it’s time to apply.

Thanks for taking the time to discover more about the role and our recruitment process.

Good luck with your application.

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