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Working In The Prisons Service Industry

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An overview of the industry

The Prisons Service is part of the criminal justice system that enables criminals to serve their sentences and be rehabilitated back into society where possible. It requires a whole team of professionals to keep the system running effectively.

There are a variety of roles within the Prisons Service including officers, administration staff, healthcare professionals and operational managers. There is also a maintenance team to keep the facilities in check.

The Prison Service workforce has to be extremely disciplined and able to enforce rules whilst remaining respectful of others. At times it can be a very challenging role, but one that makes a real difference to society and you could be a part of turning someone’s life around.

Prison officers are a key role within the prison service, but rehabilitation also depends on the work of psychologists, probation workers and prison instructors who deliver classes and workshops.

These teams work together to try and help prisoners to live a crime-free life after their sentences and be productive members of society.

A prison is not a typical work environment. You may face violent and difficult situations. You will also be required to work with prisoners that have done a range of crimes, but you will have the same duty of care to all of them. You must be able to refrain from judgement and fulfil this duty to the best of your abilities.

There is also currently a shortage of prison staff throughout the country, so the pay can be quite generous.

Skills & interests required

An interest in helping others will go a long way when trying to rehabilitate a prisoner. You will need to have their best interests at heart.

The prison environment can potentially be dangerous and you will need to be able to remain calm in these situations. You will be trained on how to deal with conflict, but it will require you to be resilient to stress.

Other skills that will benefit you in the prison service include:

- Ability to Work Under Pressure
- Adaptability
- Communication
- Determination
- Health and safety
- Initiative
- Patience
- Resilience
- Strong Work Ethic

Typical Career Progression Routes for School Leavers

Progression within the prison service can be varied as it depends on which role you are in.

Prison officers can work up to managerial and supervisory positions, which will involve more responsibilities and increased pay. Once you have enough experience and a good grasp of the functionalities of a prison, you could pursue an accredited qualification in senior management that will allow you to go on and govern your own prison.

Earning potential

The earning potential will depend on the role that you are in, but some typical salaries within the prison service (according to the National Careers Service) are:

Prison officer - £20,750 - £38,000
Forensic Psychologist - £20,000-£70,000
Prison Governor - £39,500-£75,500
Probation Officer– £22,000-£40,000

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

To become a prison officer there are no formal requirements, but you must be over 18 years old and you’ll have to do a 10 week training course at the Prison Service College.

To get onto this training course you will have to pass an online personality test to determine if you have the traits to be successful in a prison environment. After this, you will have to attend a recruitment assessment day that will involve role-playing, interviews and also a fitness test.

For other roles, such as forensic psychologist, you will need to have a relevant degree.

Useful resources

Prison and Probation Jobs
HM Prison Service

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