Application process - Prison Service jobs

How To Apply For Prison Service (HMPPS) Jobs

Applying for a role in the Offender Management Service (HMPPS Careers) can sometimes be seen as a confusing process, with a lack of available information on the process and the timescales involved with this.

There are a variety of different routes in to HMPPS careers, depending on the role that you are applying for.

Below, HMPJobs explains the 7 steps of how you can start working as a Prison Officer in the sector.

1. Find the right job  and apply

Make sure that you find the right opportunity for you. 

Research the particular role, location and establishment that you wish to pursue a career in. Careers in the Justice sector vary hugely, so it is important that you learn about the sector as a whole and the different categories of prison you are able to work in before applying for the role.

You will now need to fill out a short online application to confirm your eligibility. This includes declaring whether you are a member of any controversial group or organisation and whether you are eligible to work in the UK.

3. Online test  

Once you’ve completed the application form, we will send you a test with two parts to complete as part of your application.

These are:

  • Situational judgment test: This is an online test that is designed to test how you react in scenarios you may face as a prison officer
  • Maths test: You’ll need an acceptable level of maths to be a prison officer. As part of your application, you’ll take an online maths test. Don’t be put off, we just need to know you can do the basics. Try the mock test on the website.?

4. Prison Tour 

Some prisons offer opportunities for applicants to visit during the application process. This is a great opportunity for candidates to ask questions, and experience the prison environment. We strongly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity.

5. Recruitment Assessment Day (RAD)

If you pass the online tests you will be invited to attend a recruitment assessment day (RAD).

At the recruitment assessment day we will assess your physical fitness and whether you have the qualities and skills we are looking for in a prison officer.

We assess this in a number of ways:

  • Role plays: We will test how you react in three different role play situations. You will be observed by an assessor who will mark you against our criteria.
  • Written tests: We will test you on your literacy and numeracy skills, similar to what you will have completed as part of the online tests.
  • Fitness tests: The fitness test will assess your ability to meet the physical demands of the job. You will need to complete a bleep test, an agility test and push/pull strength tests.

6. Provisional offer and vetting

 if you are successful at RAD you will either be:

  • Put through the vetting process if a position is available immediately


  • Put onto a reserve list to wait for a position to become available.

As soon as it does you will move into the vetting process. Time spent on a waiting list can vary significantly, depending on your circumstances, location and the timing of your application. The vetting process can take a few months to complete, depending on your employment history and where you’ve lived.

Whilst you are waiting you can expect to hear from your prison mentor with details of what to expect once vetting is complete.

6.  Placement/ Prison officer entry-level training (POELT) course 

Once you have passed the vetting process, you will be invited to attend a Prison Officer Entry-Level Training course, based at your allocated establishment and one of a number of training sites across England and Wales. Once you pass the POELT course, you will begin working at your allocated establishment.

Prison officer training is 12 weeks in duration; 10 weeks of that is the 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 carryout 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 whole process from application to starting your job as a prison officer will take a minimum of 10 weeks. It can take longer depending on your employment history and references.

For more detailed information about a variety of HMPPS Careers, head to Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service website.


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