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What is a Prison officer? The School Leaver Guide

Prison Officer.jpg

What is a Prison officer?

As a prison officer, you will be responsible for the security, supervision, training and rehabilitation of prisoners.

What does a Prison officer do?

You will need to:

  • Supervise a prison lawfully and safely

  • Keep records of those you are in charge of and maintain proper order

  • Perform security checks and search procedures on prisoners

  • Supervise visits

  • Escort prisoners on external visits, e.g. to hospital

  • Assist in prisoner reviews

  • Advise and counsel prisoners

  • Ensure that all prisoners have access to the professional help that they require

  • Deal with incidents and resolve issues on the spot

  • Employ authorised physical control and restraint procedures when necessary

  • Take care of prisoners’ property

  • Be aware of prisoners’ rights and dignity

  • Provide appropriate care and support where necessary, e.g. medical care and mental health support

  • Promote anti-bullying and suicide prevention policies

  • Take an active part in rehabilitation programmes

  • Ensure that you are complying with national, international and local policies and legislation

Skills & interests required for a Prison officer

  • Strong interpersonal skills

  • Great communication and people skills

  • Integrity

  • The ability to lead a time and take responsibility

  • Team working skills

  • The ability to make sharp and sensible decisions

  • The ability to remain calm under pressure

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Physical stamina

  • Awareness of the criminal justice system

Working hours

Prison officers often work regular unsocial hours, including nights, weekends and bank holidays. On average, you will work 37 hours per week over the shift cycle, although it is possible to be contracted up to 41 hours per week.

Work base

You will be based in the prison buildings. Most of the work is indoors, although some supervision duties involve working outside.

Salary ranges & earning potential

Salaries in Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) varies between grades, areas of the country and individual prisons.

Starting salaries in London can range from £29,453 to £32,486. In the South and South East, you can earn up to £27,688 per annum for a 41-hour week. In England and Wales, you can earn £23,052 (41-hour week).

Education requirements

Personal qualities and life experience are valued more highly than academic qualifications. There will be written assessments, situational judgement tests and a maths test as part of the application process.

Useful subjects to study at school

  • Criminology

  • Law

  • Sociology

  • Psychology

  • Crime Science

  • Forensic Science

  • Crime and Justice