https://prisonjobs.blog.gov.uk/2017/12/13/an-introduction-to-poelt-prison-officer-entry-level-training/

An introduction to POELT (Prison Officer Entry Level Training)

Prison officers in training

Before any prison officer is ready to start their new career in the prison service, they receive Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) to prepare them for the job ahead. This blog post will provide you with an overview of the POELT, what to expect, and my own personal tips on how to make the most of the training.

I’m Dave, and I started out as a prison officer. By working through the ranks, developing my career, I’m now the Delivery and Development Co-ordinator at HMP Newbold Revel – the prison service’s largest prison officer learning centre. So, I have extensive knowledge in both being a prison officer and in training them.

An overview of the POELT

Altogether, the POELT is a 12-week programme that equips new officers with the skills and knowledge needed to begin their careers working in the prison service and rehabilitate offenders. Currently, it starts with an induction week at the prison you’ve applied to, followed by a 10-week intensive training course at one of our 40 learning centres across England and Wales, and ends with a consolidation week back at your prison.

At your induction, you’ll get an overview of working life in a prison and an understanding of the different complexities behind the prison officer role and areas of responsibility. For example, you’ll see the variety of departments that make up a prison, such as healthcare, chaplaincy, the gym, the library and more! There will be no assessments and you won’t be responsible for any offenders during your induction.

Most importantly, you’ll also be introduced to both your line manager and mentor, who will be your first points of contact for any support you need during your first year of probation. This gives us a chance to get to know you and any initial areas of concern you may have that we can help with.

You’ll then attend your 10-week training. This is so you can contextualise and prepare for the environment you’ll eventually be working in.

Finally, you’ll attend your consolidation week at your prison for your last week of training. Prisons vary from one another so this is a great chance for you, with support from your mentor and line manager, to put into practice what you’ve learnt from your course. This is also an opportunity to see if you need any extra training or guidance. This will typically be the first time you work directly with offenders, but you’ll always be supervised and supported by experienced members of staff before ‘going live’ as a fully trained prison officer.

What to expect from the 10-week training

You’ll get the tools and confidence to be a professional prison officer. We provide a variety of ways for you to learn: from classrooms to team-building exercises, from lectures to hands-on problem-solving. You’ll also have individual assessments and group projects throughout the training to make sure you’re reaching the required standard.

Prison officers socialising

The training has a very inclusive environment, centred around teamwork and collaborative working. So, it's also a great time to make some friends and bond with fellow officers from different prisons.

Another important part of the 10-week course is ensuring you get the support you need in preparation for your new career. All our prison officer trainers are qualified, skilled, and experienced to deliver the training and they work closely with your personal mentors.

How the course is run

The 10-week training course is intensive but we split it into bitesize chunks. We start simply with giving an overview of how a prison works, what life as a prison officer is like, and what to expect in your role.

Prison officer trainer demonstrating CPR in classroom
Prison officers being trained in first aid

Training then ramps up each week. You’ll start learning the basics on safety: cuffing, cell-searching, locking and unlocking doors. There’s also mandatory training on areas including:

  • first aid
  • food hygiene
  • health and safety
  • the rules and regulation within the service

Throughout the course, the training focuses on giving you the skills and knowledge to create a rehabilitative environment for the people in our care. Ultimately, your role as a prison officer is to help provide the tools and opportunities for offenders to lead law-abiding, successful lives and to cut down reoffending.

So, you’ll learn de-escalation tactics, how to deal with confrontation and strengthen your interpersonal skills. Communication is vital in being a prison officer. You’ll be trained in being keyworkers for prisoners: to be mentors and guides.

Prison officers speaking with a prisoner

This includes understanding how you behave and how you are perceived as an officer. We use lots of techniques on understanding human behaviour, with the view to rehabilitate, and understand the problems and challenges people have, to allow us to influence others and change people’s lives.

Assessment

You’re assessed throughout the training, and our assessors evaluate your performance through day-to-day observation, feedback and project work. We’ll also give you the skills and confidence to present both individually and as a group.

When it comes to grading, we don’t use the word ‘fail’. If you find something challenging, we’ll work with you to help you overcome it.

After the 12 weeks have been completed, you come away from the POELT with a Level 3 diploma in the management and care of individuals in the custodial environment. You’ll also gain a first aid qualification, and a certificate in food hygiene. You can use these qualifications as a platform to help you specialise or get promoted within the prison service.

My advice to you

One of my personal highlights running these training sessions is seeing how much people learn about themselves. I love seeing how new prison officers mature collectively as a group and as individuals through this process. They really grow professionally and often develop a renewed perspective on life, based on the work we cover on a vast and often challenging range of topics. The training provides a genuinely positive experience.

So, before you start your career in the prison service:

  • get rid of any preconceived ideas you may have and come with an open mind
  • think of the uniform you wear and what it represents – we are a uniformed service that protects the public, so wear it with pride
  • remember that resilience is important in being a prison officer; what we do is challenging but incredibly rewarding

To find out more information about prison and probation jobs, visit our recruitment website.

64 comments

  1. Comment by Kim McCall posted on

    Is there any compensation while doing the POELT?

    Reply
    • Replies to Kim McCall>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Kim, thanks for your question. You get paid the full prison officer salary whilst on the Prison Officer Entry Level Training, and this includes London weighting for relevant prisons.

      Reply
  2. Comment by Dan posted on

    I live in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Where would the closest POELT centre be? Also, can you visit home at weekends? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Replies to Dan>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your comment. Whilst we have multiple training venues around the country to make training as convenient for people as possible, we have to allocate people to the spaces we have available. But, we will always try to take into consideration where you live, the prison you have applied to, and your personal circumstances.

      If you are placed a bit further from home then we arrange accommodation for you Monday - Friday and you're back home at weekends.

      I hope that helps,

      Emily

      Reply
  3. Comment by Sean posted on

    Could you tell me on the training course are you away from home for 10 weeks

    Reply
    • Replies to Sean>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Sean, thank you for your question. The POELT course will be residential only if we have had to place you in a training centre a bit further from home. If this is the case, we will arrange accommodation for you during the 10 weeks, but you go home at weekends.

      If you are allocated to a training location that's close to home then you can commute in throughout the 10-week course.

      We have to allocate people to the spaces we have available, but we will always try to take into consideration your location, the prison you have applied to, and your personal circumstances.

      Reply
  4. Comment by Rachel posted on

    Hi
    I attended my RAD training 9 weeks ago, was offered a provisional job offer at Rochester Prison, awaiting to hear more, as I’m still in the vetting process.
    How long does it usually take to start the POELT?
    Also where would the training centre be? I live in Kent.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Replies to Rachel>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Rachel,

      Congratulations on your provisional job offer! After passing your RAD, vetting on average takes a minimum of 10 weeks and once that is complete you'll be invited to attend your POELT. You can then start your training as soon as a place is available.

      For your POELT training, we use multiple training venues around the country and we allocate people to our available spaces, which means you may not be at the training centre that’s closest to you. We always try to take into consideration where you live, the prison you have applied to, and your personal circumstances. If you are placed a bit further from home then we arrange accommodation for you Monday to Friday, and you're back home at weekends.

      I hope that helps,

      Emily

      Reply
      • Replies to Emily>

        Comment by Jon posted on

        Hi

        Whilst on POELT training do you get bank holidays off?

        Reply
        • Replies to Jon>

          Comment by Emily posted on

          Hi Jon,

          I'm very sorry for my delayed response. Prison Officers are expected to attend all classes during their POELT, some of which may fall on Bank holidays.

          This is because prisons need to be staffed every day, including bank holidays.

          Reply
    • Replies to Rachel>

      Comment by Heather posted on

      Hope to see you there as that's where I've applied to as well.
      Just got through my vetting and waiting for the Next stage. Looking forward to it.

      Reply
  5. Comment by Paul posted on

    Hi.Do you have any POELT training courses that are in Yorkshire?

    Reply
    • Replies to Paul>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Paul

      Yes, we have training centres across England and Wales.

      Reply
  6. Comment by Rachel posted on

    Thank you Emily 🙂
    Okay that’s great.

    Reply
  7. Comment by Mark posted on

    Hello I will be starting my training in March. I was wondering if it is possible to claim mileage expenses to and from your place of training?

    Reply
    • Replies to Mark>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Mark

      I'm very sorry for the delay in my response - I was finding out the answer for you. Yes, it is possible to claim travel expenses. Please refer to your prison to find out further details, as it differs for each prison.

      Thank you

      Emily

      Reply
  8. Comment by Caroline posted on

    Hi

    Does anyone ever fail the exams on Poelt training ?

    Reply
    • Replies to Caroline>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Caroline

      Apologies for the delay in my response. When it comes to grading, we don't use the word 'fail' - if you find something challenging, we’ll work with you to help you overcome it.

      However, all prison officer trainees do need to meet the standard requirement. The POELT course is run on a pass and refer back basis, where if you do not meet the required standard, the training centre will refer you back to your establishment (your chosen prison). The prison you've applied to will then look at your case, and make a decision whether or not to put you back onto another training course.

      Reply
  9. Comment by Jennifer posted on

    Could you pease tell me if there is any writing assessment test for Prison Officer Entry Level Training or it is just a training course

    Reply
    • Replies to Jennifer>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Jennifer,

      Yes there will be written and practical assessments during the training. You'd might like to refer to the 'Assessment' section of this blog post to find out some more information.

      Thank you,

      Emily

      Reply
  10. Comment by Jennifer posted on

    Is there any writing assessment test after the Prison Officer Entry Level Training finished just to know if pass or fail

    Reply
    • Replies to Jennifer>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Jennifer,

      Sorry for the delay in my response. There are writing assessments during the POELT, but when it comes to grading at the end, we don't use the word 'fail'. The POELT course is run on a 'pass' and 'refer back' basis.

      If you do not meet the required standard, the training centre will refer you back to your establishment (your chosen prison). The prison you've applied to will then look at your case, and make a decision whether or not to put you back onto another training course.

      Reply
  11. Comment by Lisa posted on

    Hi, I currently have an application going through and was hoping someone could tell me the training hours at Newbold? Im hoping to do non residential as I have a 4 year old and my husband does early starts. My travel time would be approx 1 hour each morning so I will need to look into early hours childcare.
    Can anyone help me on this question please?

    Reply
    • Replies to Lisa>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Lisa,

      The training hours at Newbold Revel are:
      Monday: 10am - 5pm
      Tuesday to Thursday: 8am - 5pm
      Friday: 8am - 12pm

      This is to allow sufficient travelling time to and from the learning centre at the beginning and end of each week.

      Reply
  12. Comment by Heather posted on

    Hi
    I've managed to pass everything and by phoning up found out on 2nd February 2018 that an email has been sent to my chosen prison.
    How long on average will I need to wait until they phone me?
    Do they wait until there is space on the next training course?
    From start when I filled in the application form it's taken me so far since October to get this far.

    Reply
    • Replies to Heather>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Heather,

      Once you've passed your Recruitment Assessment Day, vetting on average can take a minimum of 10 weeks. Once your vetting is complete, you'll be invited to attend your POELT and you can then start your training as soon as a place is available.

      The average time it takes from submitting your application to becoming a fully trained officer, can be around 9 months. We know that’s not short, which is why we’ve created this blog to help keep you informed during your journey to becoming an officer.

      Reply
  13. Comment by Rob posted on

    Could you tell if I have accepted a start date but the only training is in Rugby (I live just outside of Manchester) and there is no accommodation left on site would there be help towards alternate accommodation? Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Rob>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Rob,

      We use multiple training venues around the country and we allocate people to the spaces we have available, which means you may not be at the training centre that’s closest to you. We do always try to take into consideration where you live, the prison you have applied to, and your personal circumstances.

      If you are placed a bit further from home then we provide accommodation for you Monday to Friday, and you're back home at weekends.

      Hope that helps,

      Emily

      Reply
      • Replies to Emily>

        Comment by Rob posted on

        Hi Emily, Thank you for your reply. How do I go about setting up the accommodation? I am more than happy to travel to any location for training but I was informed not all are residential and I couldn't justify the cost of travelling to and from Rugby each day. Thanks

        Reply
        • Replies to Rob>

          Comment by Emily posted on

          Hi Rob,

          I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to discuss specific details about your POELT arrangements on this public blog - but I'd say the best thing would be for you to get in touch with whoever you've been liaising with to arrange your POELT, or contact the prison you've applied to.

          I hope that helps,
          Emily

          Reply
        • Replies to Rob>

          Comment by Luke Powell posted on

          Hi rob, when do you start your POELT at newbold? I’m start my induction on the 12th and my training on 19th March and I’m residential luckily, I’m coming from Abergavenny- South wales😊

          Reply
  14. Comment by Laura posted on

    Hi. I currently have a provisional offer at HMP Nottingham & whatton, vetting in process. My online application now says they will contact me shortly with the next stage of the recruitment process. Does this mean I have passed vetting?
    Thankyou laura

    Reply
    • Replies to Laura>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Laura

      You'll be able to tell if you've passed vetting by logging into the online applicant portal and seeing if your status has been updated to say that your pre-employment checks have been successfully completed.

      Thanks,
      Emily

      Reply
  15. Comment by Hardy posted on

    Hello Emily

    Are travel expenses covered if travelling to and fro home in order to attend an allocated training centre eg my prison will be HMP Huntercombe but I will attend POELT at HMPS College Newbold Revel?

    Many thanks in advance.

    Regards

    Hardy

    Reply
    • Replies to Hardy>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Hardy,

      Yes, it is possible to claim back travelling expenses. Please refer to your prison for further details as the policy is different for each prison.

      Thank you

      Emily

      Reply
  16. Comment by Steven Snape posted on

    Hi Emily,

    I'm currently waiting on my vetting. I've been told by Shared Services to contact my Vetting Contact Point (VCP) of where I took my RAD too find out the latest on my process. Do you know how I would get this contact number?

    Reply
    • Replies to Steven Snape>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for your query. If you have concerns about the length of time it’s taking for your vetting (pre-employment) checks to complete, you can get in touch with the vetting contact point (VCP) at the prison you’ve been allocated to. You would need to ring through the main prison number and ask to be put through to the VCP or People Hub. However, please note that the VCP will only be able to request an update if you’ve been in pre-employment checks for more than 6 weeks.

      Also, please note that on average, pre-employment checks can take around 12 weeks to complete.

      Reply
      • Replies to Emily>

        Comment by Mohammed posted on

        Hi Emily
        I've read your responses to questions pertaining to Vetting timescales. I was offered a re-allocation to a prison alternate to the one I applied at initially. I accepted the reallocation offer.
        It's been 5 weeks since that last email from SSCL and last week my countersignatory informed me that he sent off his reference as well. I imagine it will take a further few weeks for a final offer to come through, please correct me if I'm wrong.

        Thank you.

        Reply
        • Replies to Mohammed>

          Comment by Emily posted on

          Hi Mohammed

          Yes it can take approximately 12 weeks for vetting to complete. If you have concerns about the length of time it’s taking for your vetting (pre-employment) checks to complete, you can get in touch with the vetting contact point (VCP) at the prison you’ve been allocated to. You would need to ring through the main prison number and ask to be put through to the VCP or People Hub. The VCP can request an update if you’ve been in pre-employment checks for more than 6 weeks.

          Reply
  17. Comment by angela posted on

    Hi Emily,

    I completed my rad in May last year. Vetting finally started on the 6th Nov. I tried to ring shared services but they wont update me on my vetting. Is there anyone else I can ask? I am quite concerned that in just over 3 months my rad results will expire as they only last 12 months.

    thanks

    Angela

    Reply
    • Replies to angela>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Angela,

      If you have concerns about the length of time it’s taking for your vetting to complete, you can get in touch with the vetting contact point (VCP) at the prison you’ve been allocated to. You would need to ring through the main prison number and ask to be put through to the VCP or People Hub. The VCP can request an update as you’ve been in pre-employment checks for more than 6 weeks.

      I hope that helps,

      Emily

      Reply
  18. Comment by richard posted on

    hi emily
    i have been in the service for 20 years , on the catering side and im considering becoming an officer finally,
    do they still invite families to newbold or training centres when training is complete?
    thankyou

    Reply
    • Replies to richard>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your question. This no longer happens, but instead prison officers who have passed their training are given a certificate presentation with their trainers.

      Thank you

      Emily

      Reply
  19. Comment by Lisa Watt posted on

    Hi, I start my POELT in Newbold on March 19th.

    I already have the NVQ L3 in custodial care and management.(I gained this whilst at a previous establishment as a PCO) Can you let me know what i should do (do I take my certificates with me to Newbold) Many Thanks.

    Reply
    • Replies to Lisa Watt>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Lisa

      You should get in touch with your allocated prison and ask to please speak with the POELT Mentor there. The Mentor should then be able to clarify with the Learning and Development team what is required for you.

      Thanks

      Emily

      Reply
  20. Comment by Mark Hughes posted on

    I've just applied, so very early days. Just want to say thanks as your questions and comments have answered a lot of the questions i had.

    Reply
    • Replies to Mark Hughes>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      You are very welcome! I am happy to help. Thank you very much for your feedback, it's much appreciated.

      Reply
  21. Comment by Adam Hampson posted on

    Just had a conditional offer through and believe I now need to go through vetting and a health questionnaire online? Any rough timescales when poelt will be if I pass as I'm getting married in July so need a couple weeks off. Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Adam Hampson>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Adam,

      Congratulations in advance for July! Vetting can take around 12 weeks to complete. Once completed, you'll be invited to attend your POELT. You can then start your training as soon as a place is available.

      Reply
  22. Comment by Khan posted on

    I would like to know that I live at Glasgow.
    Any nearest POELT Training centre from Glasgow.
    What are the requirements to apply for POELT Training.Do we need to pay for this training? Duration of training?

    Reply
  23. Comment by Rowan Dyson posted on

    Hi just filled out pre-employment Check at What point should I resign at may current job? Also they are unaware that I will be hopefully leaving soon worried that the vetting team will call them and if I don’t pass vetting I will lose my current job .

    Reply
    • Replies to Rowan Dyson>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Rowan,

      We would always advise candidates not to hand in their notice with their current employer until you've received confirmation that all pre-employment checks have been completed and you've been approached to discuss a start date. We will happily work around a candidate's notice period when organising a start/training date.

      Just to let you know, vetting can take approximately 12 weeks to complete.

      Reply
  24. Comment by Stephanie posted on

    I recently got my start date for Wormwood scrubs and training at Newbold Revel, I live in central London and don’t drive in the city, so I’m just wondering are travel expenses covered for trains to and from Newbold Revel? I am staying on site Monday to Friday so it’s just for travelling home at weekends. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Replies to Stephanie>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Stephanie,

      Yes, it is possible to claim travel expenses but please refer to your prison to find out further details, as the policy differs for each prison.

      Reply
  25. Comment by callum posted on

    hi Emily

    I have passed the RAD and been offered a conditional offer at my local prison last week, iv just completed the vetting form and health questionnaire, and now I am waiting out but I am still in the army and will not be able to start training till December will this effect my application or will the prison take this into consideration?

    thanks Callum

    Reply
    • Replies to callum>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Callum,

      Congratulations on your conditional offer! You'll be able to discuss your start date with your prison once all your pre-employment checks have been completed, which can roughly take 12 weeks, and you've been approached to discuss a start date. We will happily work around a candidate's notice period when organising a start/training date.

      Thank you

      Emily

      Reply
      • Replies to Emily>

        Comment by callum posted on

        hi Emily

        brilliant thank you for your fast response and answer

        Reply
  26. Comment by Anthony posted on

    Hi

    Thinking of applying to the prison service

    Just few questions

    I have asthma but I can easily do the fitness test can you still apply? I’ve asked friends who are P.O and as far as they know there isn’t a issue

    Also what are the background checks ( presuming it’s make sure you have not got a criminal record, your not a member of any extreme political parties etc and your right to live in the UK

    Reply
  27. Comment by Jon posted on

    Good morning, I’ve been in the process since October it’s been an exciting couple of months, took myself a while to get a police check from Spain as I lived there for a year, my vetting started in January, however my clearance letter came through last week which I thought was very quick. On my application online it’s says “we’ll be in touch shortly to explain the next process” could you tell me what the next process could be please? Although it’s been a week I don’t want to ring and be a hassle.

    Reply
  28. Comment by Sandy posted on

    Hi
    I was given a start date in April 2018 for HMP Berwyn however I was unable to accept as I had booked annual leave in May 2018 and was told I’m not allowed to take any time off during training. Are you able to tell me when the next training for POELT starts after April?
    Or roughly how long does training take place after one another?

    Reply
    • Replies to Sandy>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Sandy

      Thanks for your query but I'm afraid I don't have access to that information - but please rest assured that you'll be contacted about the next POELT spaces as soon as they become available.

      Thank you

      Emily

      Reply

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