https://prisonjobs.blog.gov.uk/2018/12/10/top-10-faqs-on-prison-officer-recruitment-you-asked-we-answered/

Top 10 FAQs on prison officer recruitment - you asked, we answered

Image of employee looking at the Working in the Prison Service blog on a computer

We launched the Working in the Prison Service blog about a year ago back in December 2017 and since then we’ve received over 1,000 comments. This is fantastic and we’re glad to see so much conversation happening on the blog. However, we also noticed that some of the same queries were frequently coming up.

So, we’ve produced this blog based on the top 10 most common questions you’ve asked us over the past year.

1. Where’s the nearest POELT centre to my home?

We get asked this question a lot, but we don’t give out specific locations. This is because, for your Prison Officer Entry Level Training, HMPPS uses multiple training venues around the country and allocate you to ones that have available spaces.

This means you may not be at the training centre that’s closest to your home.

But, we always try to take into consideration where you live, the prison you’ve applied to, and your personal circumstances. If you’re placed a bit further from home, then we arrange residential accommodation for you Monday to Friday, and you're back home at weekends.

If you have any concerns, please raise them with our recruitment team at the stage they call you to discuss your start and training dates.

2. I’m attending my POELT on residential. Can I leave items in the room over the weekend and are there cooking facilities?

Depending on where you’re doing your POELT, you’ll need to speak with the accommodation (either the residential training centre or hotel) to find out if there is any storage.

In terms of meals, there should be a cafeteria where you can buy lunch. Accommodation should also provide basic cooking facilities but, if you want to be sure for your specific residential, please speak with your mentor who you’ll meet during your first week at your allocated prison.

3. The last 2 weeks of my POELT will be over Christmas, how will this affect training?

Usually our POELT colleges do not run over the Christmas period. Your prison will let you know if this is the case and what arrangements will be in place for you during this period.

4. Can I transfer my ARC accreditation to another prison?

Yes, you can transfer a live Assessment & Recruitment Centre (ARC) accreditation to more than one prison application by calling the Recruitment Contact Centre on 0845 241 5358.

Once you’ve been given a provisional offer from 1 of the prisons you’ve applied to, you’ll then be withdrawn from all your other applications.

If you decline this offer, then you can ask the recruitment team for your other applications to be left live.

Please be aware there’s no guarantee that because 1 prison had offered you a position that you’ll automatically be offered a position at the other prisons you’ve applied to straight away, as this all depends on vacancies and your position on the merit list.

How do I transfer my ARC from an adult prison to a Young Offenders prison?

After passing your ARC, you’ll need to pass additional assessments in order to work with young people. This will involve taking 2 extra role plays and additional interview questions at a separate ARC. Please apply for the relevant vacancy and contact the recruitment team to inform them that you’ve already passed the adult parts of your ARC.

Prison officers socialising

5. When and how do I order my uniform?

You’ll be asked to fill in your uniform request form at your ARC.

6. When will my probation start?

The probation period for a new prison officer lasts for 12 months and it starts at your prison, 1 week before you attend your POELT.

7. What’s the difference between a merit campaign and a pass campaign?

Pass campaigns and merit campaigns both have merit lists, which you can remain on for up to 12 months. Once these 12 months expire you’ll need to re-apply again.

The reserve list is also known as the merit list.

Merit campaigns

You’ll be allocated a vacancy in order of merit, based on your performance at the ARC. This means no candidate will be allocated a position until all candidates have completed their ARC, or by the closing date of the campaign. Please note that assessments run for 8 weeks after the campaign closing date. Once you’re allocated a vacancy, you’ll then begin pre-employment/security vetting checks.

Pass campaigns

You’ll be allocated to the next available vacancy and then you’ll begin your pre-employment/security vetting checks.

8. I’m on a merit list, why is the job still up and why is the prison still recruiting?

We run ongoing recruitment in prisons where we need to maintain a merit list to meet our recruitment requirements. The recruitment process can be lengthy, with vetting taking about 12 weeks, so we need to ensure that we have sufficient candidates to meet current and future recruitment needs, which we can do through a merit list.

Recruitment campaigns won’t close until all candidates have finished the assessment process so that HMPPS can confirm the order of the merit list, since job offers are based on your score at the ARC.

So, even though you may be on a merit list, this does not necessarily mean that all vacancies at a prison have been filled yet. Once the merit order is confirmed, we’ll start making job offers as vacancies become available throughout the 12 month period.

9. What do I wear for training?

You’ll be given your uniform before your first day at your prison. You’ll wear your uniform during the training, and if you’re attending your training at a residential you can wear your own clothes during your own time.

You will be supplied with any extra clothing/protective equipment as required throughout your training.

Your uniform will need to be kept smart throughout your training.

10. What happens if I fail my...

Online test

If you’ve failed your online test you’re more than welcome to apply to other prisons but will need to wait a minimum of 2 months before re-applying to any prison.

ARC

If you’re close to the pass mark on your fitness test, you’ll be contacted and invited back to try again. However if you’ve failed any other element of your ARC you’ll now need to wait 6 months before reapplying for either the same or a different prison.

Meanwhile, you might also like to take a look at other roles within HMPPS, such as the Operational Support Grade (OSG) where you’ll play a crucial part in keeping prisons safe and running smoothly.

Pre-employment/security vetting checks

You’ll need to wait a full 12 months before reapplying again.

We hope this post helps clear up most of your queries. If you have any other question that isn’t covered in the above, please explore our guidance blog posts or leave a comment below.

To find out more information about working for the prison service, please visit our recruitment website.

68 comments

  1. Comment by Claire posted on

    Hi I don't know if this has already been put on the blog but my status has changed to pre employment checks higher level and/ health outstanding any information on this would be great many thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Claire>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Claire,

      This would mean that the vetting team are still yet to receive your completed health forms. Please keep an eye on your emails as they’ll be in touch to ask you for those documents, but if you’re stuck in vetting for more than 6 weeks please get in touch with the vetting contact point (VCP) at the prison you’ve applied to. You’ll need to ring the main prison number and ask to be put through to the VCP or People Hub.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
      • Replies to Helena>

        Comment by Claire posted on

        Thanks Helena
        I called scl and they informed me health questionair is complete it's just the vetting I'm waiting for
        Many thanks

        Reply
      • Replies to Helena>

        Comment by Gair Talboys posted on

        Hi Helena,
        I've started my POELT this week. Can you tell me when we / i can expect my first pay? I was assuming it would be the last working day February. Am i assuming right? And if so will this be a full months wage.

        Regards

        Reply
        • Replies to Gair Talboys>

          Comment by Helena posted on

          Hi Gair,

          Yes, you should receive your full wage at the end of February. If you don’t, please ask your line manager.

          Thanks, Helena

          Reply
  2. Comment by Moore posted on

    Hello

    I was a prison officer for 3 years and left 1 year ago , I'm looking to return now to the same prison will I have to go through the same checks and training again ?

    Reply
    • Replies to Moore>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi,

      I’m afraid you will need to go through the pre-employment checks and POELT again.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  3. Comment by Mr Matthew Clarke posted on

    What are the chances of not getting a job within 12 months after passing your ARC?

    Reply
    • Replies to Mr Matthew Clarke>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Matthew,

      I’m afraid we’re not able to advise on this. It all depends on the prison you’ve applied to, the level of competition and how many vacancies the prison has available.

      However, HMPPS will always endeavour to place a successful candidate into a role before the 12 months are up.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
      • Replies to Helena>

        Comment by Natasha posted on

        Hi I'm just trying to figure out even though I have passed my ARC and it's at a merit campaign prison will I be offered a place? Looking at this answer hopefully yes I will.

        Reply
        • Replies to Natasha>

          Comment by Emily posted on

          Hi Natasha,

          As it's a merit campaign I'm afraid we can't guarantee a position but HMPPS endeavour to give job offers within the 12 months of you passing the ARC.

          Reply
          • Replies to Emily>

            Comment by Natasha posted on

            Smashing thank you 😊

  4. Comment by Mr Matthew Clarke posted on

    That's great, thanks very much for the response, also just another question can not apply for detached service or do you need a allocated prison first?

    Reply
    • Replies to Mr Matthew Clarke>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Matthew

      When applying to become a prison officer you choose the prison or prisons you wish to apply to first, as opposed to applying to become a prison officer to then be allocated a prison.

      I hope that helps,
      Emily

      Reply
      • Replies to Emily>

        Comment by Gair posted on

        Hi Emily, please excuse me for using reply on some elses comment but I seem to be experiencing some difficulties finding 'how to post'. Anyway my question is. I start my POET on the 28th January 2019 and luckily it's also at my chosen prison. I have been for my walk around and really enjoyed it, I did ask at the time but can't remember the answer. What do I do about pre-booked holidays?

        Reply
  5. Comment by Mr Matthew Clarke posted on

    Great thank you.

    Reply
  6. Comment by Mark posted on

    Hi I'm currently a prison officer at the moment but still in my probation period. If you know another poelt at another prison can you swap with them at anytime.

    Reply
    • Replies to Mark>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Mark

      Thanks for your query. Before we can help, can you please clarify your question? Are you asking if you can swap shifts with another prison officer?

      Many thanks,
      Emily

      Reply
  7. Comment by Mark Deighton posted on

    Hi.. No I'm asking if a poelt from one establishment can swap with another poelt from another one. Example would be.. If I worked at Leeds and someone else worked at weatherby could we swap prisons if it worked out better for us both. Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Mark Deighton>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for clarifying your question.

      I’m afraid you won’t be able to swap prisons, you’ll need to apply and pass the online tests for that particular prison you’d like to work in and complete or transfer your ARC score. If successful, you’ll then be invited to POELT for this prison.

      I hope that’s helpful.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  8. Comment by Lacie posted on

    hello

    I have received a email stating I passed the online tests and that I will need to attend ARC however there is no spaces available at present.
    how often are these taken place?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Lacie>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Lacie,

      Due to the Christmas and New Year break ARC placements weren’t being offered. Please keep an eye on both your portal and emails as new dates will become available very soon.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  9. Comment by Paul W posted on

    Hello,

    Will my criminal record stop me from becoming a Prison Officer?

    As I know the government has signed civil servant jobs up to "Ban the box" system.

    I have applied but I have not been asked if I have any criminal convictions.

    Reply
  10. Comment by Rachael posted on

    My online has changed to reffered for a decision. What does this mean?.

    Reply
  11. Comment by Sam posted on

    Hi, still waiting for assement day dates since November. Do you know when they are starting to give dates? Also worried now I’ve been waiting for dates for so long that the job I applied for won’t have any jobs going now 🙁

    Reply
    • Replies to Sam>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Sam

      Thanks for your query. Please rest assured that there are still vacancies in some prisons and all candidates who are still interested in being assessed will be invited as soon as possible. I’m sorry for the delay but we’ve received a lot of applications and can only assess a certain number of candidates each day.

      Thanks

      Emily

      Reply
  12. Comment by Carina posted on

    Hi, I attended an ARC in mid- December (merit campaign for youth justice worker position) and don't yet know if I have passed the assessment day. When I log in it says 'we are updating your application and will be in touch shortly about the next stage of recruitment'. Just wondering when I would likely find out whether or not I passed or failed? Many thanks.

    Reply
  13. Comment by Colin posted on

    Hi I have had my vetting all back completed successfully, I’m awaiting a call or email regarding my poelt training how long am I supposed to wait before I contact them with regards to not hearing anything thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Colin>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Colin,

      Great to hear you passed vetting.

      I’ve seen in another question that you’ve been waiting for 5 weeks, please contact the SSCL Recruitment Centre on 0845 241 5358 as they should be able to advise.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  14. Comment by Mark posted on

    Hi Emily

    Please can you tell us how the Arc scoring grade can be measured, as I have recently received an email confirming I passed and giving a score? However, Is the result number provided in the email scored out of 100?
    And what is the pass mark score, and the average score for for Arc applicants?
    At moment I’m not sure if I just scraped a pass, or did really well.
    Many thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Mark>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Mark

      Each component of the ARC is scored differently, so I'm afraid it's difficult to say. For example, assessments such as the situational judgement tests are scored out of 100, but the fitness tests is a simple pass or fail.

      I'm afraid we also don't know what the average score or the pass mark is for the ARC. I think the best thing to do is focus on the fact you've passed and if you have any concerns then please rest assured once you start the job you will be given a mentor who you can ask any questions. You'll also go through thorough Prison Officer Entry Level Training to help fully prepare you for the role.

      Congratulations on passing!

      Emily

      Reply
  15. Comment by allana posted on

    Hi, Is there anyway we can find out how many vacancies are available at the selected prison we have applied for and when the recruitment will start for that prison, in particularly HMP Lewes?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to allana>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Allana

      You could phone the prison to find out but generally prison recruitment occurs on a recurring basis so I'm afraid we don't hold that information.

      Apologies,

      Emily

      Reply
  16. Comment by Natasha posted on

    Hi I passed my ARC in November 2018 and I'm currently on a merit list now for my chosen prisons,hopefully I will hear something soon.
    This is my second go at it as the first time I applied in 2017 I failed my vetting due to a conviction not being spent hopefully this time I will pass I just want people to know out there that even with a criminal record still give the service a go as we know people can change and have various qualities to pass on.

    Reply
    • Replies to Natasha>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Natasha

      Thanks a lot for your comment! Indeed people with past convictions can still apply as we take applications on a case by case basis. Congratulations on passing and I hope you hear something soon.

      Best wishes
      Emily

      Reply
  17. Comment by Natasha posted on

    Thank you 😁

    Reply
  18. Comment by Scott posted on

    Hello, I passed my arc assessment roughly just over a week ago, there are 3 prisons in the job description that are taking on all on a merit campaign, does this mean that any one of the 3 could contact me should a vacancy become available and my arc score is high enough?,
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Replies to Scott>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Scott

      Yes, that's correct any of those 3 prisons could contact you regarding a vacancy.

      Reply
  19. Comment by Charlie rabbit posted on

    Hello if you fail your probation period and bben let get go can you re apply for the job
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Replies to Charlie rabbit>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Charlie

      It depends on the reasons why a prison officer has failed their probation.

      If a person has failed their probation, they can re-apply but their previous service would be looked into at the pre-employment checks (vetting) stage and a decision would be made on a case-by-case basis as to whether they will be re-employed.

      However, if a person has been dismissed on disciplinary grounds, they can only be reappointed if HMPPS's CEO authorises it.

      If someone has been previously been dismissed based on their health capability, they may be reappointed but only with appropriate Occupational Health advice.

      If the person has been dismissed from service under medical retirement provisions, then they cannot be re-employed in any capacity.

      I hope that helps,
      Emily

      Reply
  20. Comment by Emma posted on

    Hi, I passed my vetti g 2 weeks ago and my status has changed to I will be contacted shortly for next stage. Could you please advise how long this usually takes.
    Thank you

    Reply
  21. Comment by Matthew Clarke posted on

    Hello there, I see you have said to some of the question to ring the prisons you applied for? How do you get the numbers of the prisons.
    On a merit list but have a bad feeling I will not get in. It's killing me. Lol

    Reply
  22. Comment by Louise posted on

    Hi

    My online portal says "allocation has now been requested." Does this mean that the pre-employment checks are almost complete? What are the steps following this?

    Many Thanks!

    Reply
  23. Comment by Steph posted on

    Hi ,

    I passed my rad day April 2018 and currently still on a merit list. I have since applied for all north west prisons and successfully passed the online tests; meaning I’m also on another merit list. I’m concerned that I only have 2 months left until my 12months to be given a job offer is up... is there any way to find out if the prison is still recruiting etc ?

    Reply
    • Replies to Steph>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Steph

      We are still recruiting in many areas of the country. I'm afraid I'm unable to tell if you'll be offered a position before April, but I can confirm we do recruit people from our merit lists on regular basis.

      Thanks,

      Emily

      Reply
  24. Comment by Misi Karizs posted on

    Hi.I am passed my online test , And have offered a slot for ARC,which is located in Manchaster.I am a good 3 hours a way from Manchester and the training starts at 8.00am..The earliest I could make it will be 8.30..Would it be a problem for that if I inform the training centre in advance about a late , or 8am start is strict and can t be changed ?

    Thank you
    Misi

    Reply
    • Replies to Misi Karizs>

      Comment by Emily posted on

      Hi Misi

      You would have to arrive at 8am - alternatively you can look to rebook your ARC and choose an 11.30am time slot instead.

      I hope that helps,

      Emily

      Reply
  25. Comment by Valerie posted on

    It seems to me that a lot of us are in the same ‘merit list’ confusion; we don’t know pass marks and are all wondering where we are.
    The only way around this is to share our scores and have a little chat together.
    I’m unsure whether this is something anyone else would be interested in doing, but if you are, I’ll happily make a private FB group for us all.

    Reply
    • Replies to Valerie>

      Comment by Natasha posted on

      I passed my ARC on the 28th November and I'm currently on a merit list for 5 prisons in the north west hopefully all of us will hear something soon but I know from past experience it is a long process and the best thing is patience lol x

      Reply
  26. Comment by Paul posted on

    Hi there,

    My Application status in the portal has changed to

    "As per our recent conversation, we are delighted to have extended a verbal offer to you.

    We look forward to hearing from you with your decision."

    However I have not had a phone call from anyone. Does this indicate that vetting has been successful?

    Reply
    • Replies to Paul>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Paul,

      Receiving a verbal offer is the next stage in the recruitment process after your pre-employment (vetting) checks.

      You should receive a phone call very soon, it takes a maximum of 10 days.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  27. Comment by Scott posted on

    Hi there,

    I’ve revived a conditional offer for the prisons I applied for but It doesn’t specify which one as there were 3 in the job description.

    I’ve booked my medical and fitness assessment as there was no facility’s available when I went for my arc assessment. Will I find out which prison the conditional offer is for providing I’ve passed my medical and fitness?.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Scott>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Scott,

      Yes you’re correct, you’ll be told the specific prison once you’ve passed your fitness and medical test as formal offers can’t be given until you’ve completed all elements of the ARC.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  28. Comment by Abbie posted on

    Hi,

    I passed my ARC 2 weeks ago. Anxiously awaiting on the merit list. As far as I know they choose from the merit list based on score, is there a particular score you should have to be chosen or are they random?
    I understand it’s a waiting process, not a lot of information I don’t know you can alabarate upon. I’ve applied for HMP drake hall Stafford is the recruitment regular?

    Thank you for your time and consideration I hope to hear back from you soon. 🙂

    Many thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Abbie>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Abbie,

      Great to hear you passed your ARC.

      You’re placed on the merit list based on your score you achieve at your ARC - it’s not random. This means the higher you score at the ARC, the higher on the merit list you’ll be so I’m afraid your position is completely dependent on other candidates’ performance, so not something we can provide guidance on.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  29. Comment by Mr Matthew Clarke posted on

    It says you can apply for other prisons but it if you are willing to work away from home, will they pay expenses and accomodation etc. I am on a merit list and still not being offered a job yet. I have had a list of red prisons but not sure if there is anything I can do to apply?
    Thank You

    Reply
    • Replies to Mr Matthew Clarke>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Matthew,

      As you’ll be a Civil Servant you’ll be entitled to the benefits which includes a season ticket loan. This will help to cover your travel expenses however you won’t be able to claim accommodation.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  30. Comment by Natasha posted on

    So today I received an email saying I'm currently on the merit list for my chosen prisons and they will be in touch as soon as a vacancy comes available.
    Does this mean now all the assessments are done and those with a high score from there ARC will be chosen for vetting?

    Reply
    • Replies to Natasha>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Natasha,

      Yes you’re correct - once all the assessments have finished then vacancies will be allocated to candidates based in order of scores achieved at ARC. Once a job offer has been made and accepted, vetting/pre-employment checks will begin.

      Please be aware that assessments finish 8 weeks after the campaign closing date.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply
  31. Comment by Alice posted on

    Hi I recently went to the assessment day for prison officer and passed everything except my bleep test I have rebooked for April but was wondering if you still have to pass the bleep test to get a job as operational support grade??

    Reply
    • Replies to Alice>

      Comment by Helena posted on

      Hi Alice,

      For an Operational Support Grade (OSG) you don’t need to pass a fitness test, so you wouldn’t need to do a bleep test.

      Thanks, Helena

      Reply

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