The Recruitment Assessment Day (RAD) is changing to the Assessment & Recruitment Centre (ARC)

Confident CEO greets potential employee before job interview. The interviewee's back is to the camera.

We’re constantly improving our recruitment process so we can make it more efficient and effective for our applicants. We're changing the Recruitment Assessment Days, also known as RAD, to the Assessment & Recruitment Centre (ARC).

This will only affect new applicants who’ve applied from the 15 October 2018. Anyone who has applied before this date will still be invited to a RAD once they’ve passed the initial online tests.

Some things will remain the same, as the ARC will still assess whether you have the abilities, behaviours, strengths and fitness to become an effective prison officer.

This blog post will outline the most important changes from the RAD to the ARC.

What should I expect at the Assessment & Recruitment Centre?

The ARC will begin with an introductory briefing session where you’ll be given information about the day - this is your chance to ask any questions you may have. There will also be a debrief at the end of the day for any remaining questions and for you to have the chance to feedback on your experience.

The ARC will be roughly broken down into the following assessments:

  •      Medical Assessment (15 minutes)
  •      Fitness Test (30 minutes)
  •      English Test (30 minutes)
  •      Numeracy Test (5 minutes)
  •      Role plays (35 minutes)
  •      Interview (30 minutes)

What changes are happening?

Introducing an interview

We’re now introducing a one-on-one interview at the ARC. This is a strengths-based interview and will last for 30 minutes.

We want to know why you want to be a prison officer, what your strengths are and what interests you, rather than assessing your past-experiences. We’ll also assess your ability to speak and understand English as this is a Government requirement in public-facing jobs.

Receiving your results

Previously, it could take up to 5 days for you to receive your RAD results. Now, you’ll know whether or not you’ve been successful or unsuccessful at the end of the assessment day.

You’ll then be emailed with a breakdown of your results in due course.

Ordering your uniform

We actually get asked about uniform a lot on this blog. Before, you’d only order your uniform nearer your start date. Now, you’ll fill out your uniform form at the ARC because you find out immediately whether or not you’ve been successful or unsuccessful on the day.

This also gives you the chance to ask the assessment staff any questions you may have about uniform.

How do I prepare for the interview?

No specific preparation is required, but you might find it helpful to consider why you would like to be a prison officer and reflect on your strengths before attending the ARC. We’re interested in finding out what motivates you to work in the prison service.

What should I bring with me to the ARC?

You’ll need to bring the following documents with you on the day of your ARC:

  •      Proof of right to work
  •      Proof of ID
  •      Proof of address
  •      Completed pre-fitness health questionnaire

Please refer to your invite email for guidance on which documents are acceptable. This will help to ensure that your pre-employment checks are completed as quickly as possible, if you’re allocated to a vacancy.

Please note that if you’ve applied under a merit recruitment campaign, your documentation will be checked, but you will not progress through to pre-employment checks until you’ve been allocated to a vacancy. For more information on merit campaigns, take a look at our vetting blog post.

Will I still have to do a medical assessment?

You’ll still be required to take part in a medical assessment carried out by a trained nurse to check that you’re safely able to take part in the fitness test during the ARC. The assessment still involves an eye test and basic health screening. This is the first part of a two-stage health screening.

The second stage is an online health questionnaire which, depending on your responses, could lead to either a face-to-face or telephone appointment to discuss any disclosed medical conditions.

What happens if I fail the ARC?

If you are unsuccessful at your ARC and would still like to become a prison officer, you'll need to wait 6 months before you can reapply for the same or a different prison.

You'd might also like to take a look at other roles within HMPPS, such as the operational support grade job, where you’d play a crucial part in keeping prisons safe and running smoothly.

For more information on the ARC, please go to our recruitment website.


  1. Comment by Andrew Codling posted on

    I’d be interested to know whether if you hold a current RAD pass whether it’s now invalid and you’d now need to attend an ARC or whether the RAD is still valid for the 12 months for any new vacancies?

    • Replies to Andrew Codling>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Andrew,

      Your current RAD accreditation is still valid for 12 months. The change from RAD to ARC will only affect you if you make a new application to become a prison officer

      Thanks, Helena

      • Replies to Helena>

        Comment by Syed posted on

        Hi Helena,

        I passed my RAD in July 2018 and I applied for a prison closer to home on 7 November 2018. Would I be able to transfer my RAD over for this or would I need to do the ARC as the communication which I’ve received from Shared Service is that there isn’t enough spaces for me to take the ARC currently.
        Please can you advise?
        Thank you

        • Replies to Syed>

          Comment by Helena posted on

          Hi Syed,

          You can transfer a live RAD accreditation to a new prison application (if you’ve applied after 15 October, which you have) and have passed the online test for the new application. This means if you’ve passed the test, you won’t need to complete another ARC.

          However, can I please ask for more information? Have you been offered and accepted a job offer from your July RAD, or are you on a merit list?

          Thanks, Helena

  2. Comment by Shannon posted on

    Due to the changes would you still possibly be able to transfer your RAD results as you would have been able to previously or would you have to go through the ARC?
    I’m curious as now there doesn’t seem to be anymore RAD tests how will it be possible to be successful if all new vacancies will be assessed under ARC and you can’t transfer your RAD.
    It seems as if all previous candidates who have passed RAD like myself have to remain on the merit list and if any vacancies come up we will have to go through an assessment day again. Slightly unfair.


  3. Comment by Olivia posted on

    I applied and scheduled my assessment day before October 15th and my assessment day is on 21st October, does that mean I will be attending the RAD rather than the ARC?

    • Replies to Olivia>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Olivia,

      As you’ve booked your assessment centre before 15 October, you’ll be completing the RAD. Those who have applied and booked their assessment centre after the 15 October will then complete an ARC rather than a RAD.

      Thanks, Helena

  4. Comment by Allana posted on


    Can you confirm if the distance required to run for the bleep test is 20m and not 15m?


    • Replies to Allana>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Allana,

      At the ARC the bleep test will still require reaching level 5.4, which is 525 metres between the two markers that are placed 15 metres apart (as per the practise videos).


  5. Comment by Joseph Houghton posted on


    I have passed the RAD back in July, do I still need to do the ARC? I have applied for a new Prison Officer Job should I do the ARC as well.

    • Replies to Joseph Houghton>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Joseph,

      Any live RAD accreditations can be mirrored across to an ARC, as long as you've completed the online test for the new job application.



  6. Comment by Perry posted on

    I passed the online test a couple of days ago and received an email saying that I have passed but there is no space at the recruitment center, followed by a message saying thank you for your application.
    Does this mean that I’ll have to re-apply further down the line? There are many PO jobs still listed on the recruitment page.


  7. Comment by Sam posted on

    Hi. I passed my online tests and was told there are no open spaces available for ARC at this time, here is the email they sent.
    We are pleased to inform that you have successfully passed the Online Test.

    Due to a large number of applications, there are currently no open spaces available for the Assessment and Recruitment Centre (ARC) at this time.

    We are currently looking to increase the number of available slots in the near future and will be in touch as soon spaces become available.

    We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your interest in the prison service.

    Will they defiantly contact me to schedule a day or am I clinging onto false hope?

    • Replies to Sam>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Sam

      As you have passed the online test you will be contacted to take part in the next step of the assessment process.

      Unfortunately I cannot guarantee when this may be - but please keep an eye out on your emails.



  8. Comment by Bryan posted on

    Would being on blood thinning medication prevent my passing a medical?

  9. Comment by Allana posted on


    As i am travelling from overseas do i need to provide a copy of my health records and bring them with me so they are available at the ARC?

    • Replies to Allana>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Allana,

      Yes, as part of your email invite to ARC you’ll be told what documents you’ll need to bring on the day. Please make sure you bring all these documents along with you.

      If you’ve lived or have been living overseas for more than 6 months in the past 3 years you’ll also need to provide an overseas police check if you’re successful.

      Thanks, Helena


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