• HM Prison Service - Public Sector Prisons

  • National Offender Management Services

Is it in you to be a prison officer?

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  • HM Prison Service - Public Sector Prisons
  • National Offender Management Services

Is it in you to be a prison officer?

Like anything worth doing, this job isn't easy.

But if you have what it takes, it could be a very rewarding career. Here, you'll get a sense of what's involved in our recruitment process. It'll help you prepare and give you a much better idea about whether it's really in you to be a prison officer.

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Are you eligible to work in the UK?

First things first. You’ll need to meet our essential criteria. This means:

  • having the right to work in the UK
  • undergoing security and identity checks prior to taking up the post
  • 12-month probationary period
  • all staff must declare if they are a member of a group or organisation which HM Prison Service considers to be racist
  • existing prison officers are not eligible to apply for this campaign

Do you have the right personal qualities?

  • communication skills
  • understanding
  • assertiveness
  • integrity

These are just some of the qualities you'll need to work with offenders and support their rehabilitation. At our recruitment assessment day, we'll test if you have what it takes in a series of role-play exercises.

Interactive Video

We've designed this interactive video to give you a better idea if you have the potential to be a prison officer. This experience reflects the role-play exercises we run at our recruitment assessment day. At the end of the video, you'll gain valuable feedback and learn more about the specific behaviours we’re looking for.

  • How's your maths?

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    You'll need a decent level of maths to be a prison officer. As well as being able to do prisoner headcounts, you'll have to write reports. As part of your application, you'll take an online maths test. Here are some practice questions.

    Test your maths here
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    Question

    46

    OFFENDERS

    live on D wing.

    Of these

    • 15

      have gone to the gym

    • and
      6
    • have gone to the exercise yard.

    How many offenders remain on D wing?

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    • 5

    Question

    At HMP Halifax

    OFFENDERS

    earn

    • 73

      p
      a day

    • for working in the textile workshop.

    How much would an offender earn if they worked for 5 days?

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    Question

    When prison officers write reports they use the

    24

    HOUR
    CLOCK

    • (e.g. 2:45pm is 14:45 and 9:45am is 09.45)

    • An offender asked you for some help at

      8:30pm

    How would you write this time in your report?

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    Question

    There are
    250

    OFFENDERS

    at HMP Halifax.

    • 50

      of the offenders are taken to the multi-faith room.

    How many offenders are now in the multi-faith room?

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    Question

    There are
    110

    OFFENDERS

    living on C wing

    • and

    • 10
    • prison officers are on duty.

    What is the ratio of offenders to prison officers?

  • You have scored...

    5

    Thanks for taking the practice test. If you got 4 or 5 out of 5, well done! If you didn’t, we recommend you spend some more time practising. You’ll find additional questions at www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/maths

    Retry

Are you physically fit enough?

Being a prison officer is a physically demanding job. For starters, you’ll be on your feet for much of the day. You’ll also have to respond quickly in emergency situations. As part of your recruitment assessment day, you’ll have to pass a fitness test. Here’s an overview of what you can expect. You’ll also find a training programme to help you prepare.

Are you physically fit enough? video
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Download exercise programme

What's your eyesight like?

Good eyesight is crucial. You’ll need to meet a minimum standard in both eyes of not less than 6/36 in each eye on the Snellen scale (uncorrected) and not less than 6/12 in the best eye (corrected with glasses/contact lenses if necessary). You also need to have normal binocular field vision with at least 120 degrees of vision in the horizontal plane. Your eyes will be tested at the assessment day.

We’ll also give you a general health check and measure your blood pressure before you’re allowed to do the fitness test - your blood pressure must be lower than 170/100 on the day.

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What's your employment history?

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  • 6 months to
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  • 8 months

If you pass our assessment day, you'll go into our vetting process. This is where we ask for your employment history, and do a thorough background check, so it can take a while to complete – between three and six months. Please bear with us during this time. It's definitely a career worth waiting for.

You're still here. That's great.

Well done for getting this far. Hopefully, you now have a much clearer idea about what it takes to become a prison officer. It's time we told you more about what the day-to-day role involves and what we can offer you.

NOMS is the National Offender Management Service. We're an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice in charge of prisons and the probation service in England and Wales. Our main purpose is to protect the public by reducing reoffending rates. We focus on supporting rehabilitation and helping offenders turn their lives around.

To find out more, watch this video featuring Head of Resourcing, Chris Hughes. You can also visit gov.uk

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What will you do?

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.

Obviously, it's a challenging job. 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. That's what's on offer here and you can build a rewarding career in the process.

What's in it for you?

Training

Training

It is important to us that you understand the way a prison works, so 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 will also learn techniques which will prepare you for any situation in a dynamic prison environment including search and security procedures as well as control and restraint techniques.

Benefits

You'll receive all the usual benefits you’d expect from a public sector role: a civil service pension, 25 days' annual leave, childcare vouchers, and much more.

If you're talented and ambitious, you'll also have the opportunity to make rapid career progress. There are a number of different directions you could take. At every stage, you'll have a structured career plan and the support of experienced mentors.

Talk to us on Facebook.

More about us

Teesside Reform Prisons

2 months ago

The Governor 06: why do you join

5 months ago

The Governor 05: Who is NOMS

5 months ago

The Governor 04: Support and training

5 months ago

The Governor 03: Woman at the force

5 months ago

The Governor 02: Typical Shift

5 months ago

The Governor 01: Prison Officer Qualities

5 months ago

Prision Officer Safety Video

5 months ago

Prison Officers 06: sell the job

5 months ago

Prison Officers 05: get from the job

5 months ago

Prison Officers 04: Roles Available

5 months ago

Prison Officers 03: Challenging days

5 months ago

Prison Officers 02: the role

5 months ago

Prison Officers 01: a day at prison

5 months ago

NOMS Facebook Video

5 months ago

NOMS Recruitment

5 months ago

NOMS Training Video

5 months ago

Learn about what NOMS is and what it does

5 months ago

Learn more about the fitness test that prison officer candidates complete a...

5 months ago

Learn more about working as a prison officer

11 months ago

Key priorities of my role - Governor's message

one year ago

Challenges of working in a prison - Governor's message

one year ago

Skills for Prison officers - Governor’s message

one year ago

HMPS Rewards - Governor’s message

one year ago

My career path - Governor’s message

one year ago

Choosing a career with HMPS - Governor's message

one year ago

Assessment Roleplay

one year ago

North Wales Prison - Economic Impact

one year ago

The role of a prison officer

one year ago

Top tips for preparation

one year ago

Role play simulations

one year ago

Prison Officer Selection Test

one year ago

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need any qualifications?

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

What's the recruitment process like?

Our assessment process is pretty rigorous. As well as an online test, you’ll have to pass a fitness test and a range of role-play exercises. Please use our website and Facebook page to find out more and prepare yourself

Do I have to wear a uniform?

Yes, you will be provided with a uniform.

What training will I receive?

Once you start, you'll spend your first few weeks on our Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) course, developing the skills you need to work with offenders.

Will I have to work shifts?

You'll work a variety of shifts, including nights, weekends, bank holidays, and some long days. On average, it’ll add up to 37 hours a week.

How can I develop my career?

There are all kinds of ways you could develop your career with HM Prison Service. To discover more, visit gov.uk

Apply

If you've been through the site and understand what it takes to be a prison officer, you're all ready to apply. Click apply and search 'prison officer'.

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

Good luck with your application.

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  • HM Prison Service - Public Sector Prisons
  • National Offender Management Services