The time it takes to complete your application can vary depending on how quickly an assessment date is secured, and how long your background checks take. The application form and online tests can be done quickly.
On average, you can expect the application process to take 6-8 months in total from when you start your application to day one on the job.
We will do our best to ensure it is as quick as possible and you will be kept updated and informed at every stage of your application journey.
This process will only take about 10 minutes.
Start by finding a prison officer vacancy on the find a job page.
Click ‘View job & apply’ to read the job description and apply.
Enter important personal details, such as nationality and your right to work in the UK. We use these to check you’re eligible to be a prison officer.
You will be invited to complete the scenario-based test, presenting you with different behavioural and numerical scenarios you might face as a youth justice worker.
Questions may mention about being a youth justice worker as we use the same tests for a prison officer application.
We are checking to see if you have the basic numeracy skills and behaviours to work in HM Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS).
We will let you know immediately if you pass the online tests. If you are successful, we will invite you to the Online Assessment Centre.
The Online Assessment Centre is a half day assessment carried out online through a laptop with webcam. Our friendly assessors will meet you and test to see if you have the abilities, behaviours, strengths and fitness to be a youth justice worker.
We will give you more information of what to expect and how to best prepare later on your application journey. Or, you can prepare now by visiting our candidate portal.
When you accept an offer for an available vacancy, we carry out security and identity checks before you begin the job. This vetting can take around 12 weeks.
If a position is not available, you will be put on a reserve list. We only begin the background checks when you have accepted an available vacancy.
Once you have passed the online tests, assessments and background checks, you will be eligible to work as a youth justice worker.
Before you start in your role, you will undergo Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) where you will learn and practise all the key skills and behaviours that are vital in the role of a youth justice worker.
Check if you are eligible to become a youth justice worker. You will need to:
Please note, we are unable to sponsor prison officer applicants via the Skilled Worker Sponsorship/Tier 2 (general) work visa.
Successful applicants must ensure they have and maintain the legal right to live and work in the Civil Service and in the United Kingdom.
As a youth justice worker, we expect you to demonstrate the following personal qualities:
Have a go at our activity to help you understand the role of a youth custody worker. You can find out more about working in youth custody and see if you are suited to the job.
Remember, every youth justice worker’s experience is different, and while we have deliberately described some more challenging situations, we cannot show the entirety of the role in a series of short films.
We use realistic scenarios to see if you have the judgement and skills to be a youth justice worker.
During the online test you will be asked how you would deal with situations you might face working in youth custody including:
Practice how you would handle the behavioural scenarios
The Online Assessment Centre tests whether you have the abilities, behaviours and strengths to be a youth justice worker.
We will send you details of the Online Assessment Centre before you attend. The assessments are designed to reflect the reality of the youth justice worker role. Therefore, they will contain strong language and cover sensitive topics that could be potentially distressing.
You will be asked to take on the role of a youth justice worker who is interacting with a child or young person in custody. You will also be asked to take on the role of a prison officer who is interacting with a prisoner in custody. You will deal with situations that are based upon real challenges that you could face in the role.
The interview looks at your strengths, and what motivates and energises you. You will need to speak and understand fluent English.
We use a short test to confirm you have the basic numerical skills needed to perform your duties as a youth justice worker. The format is similar to the online test.
We assess whether you can count, add, subtract, multiply and divide. You will also need to work with basic ratios and fractions, extract data from tables and read the time in the 24-hour format.
We check your writing ability and whether you can use written sources to make effective decisions.
You will need to be able to write in sentences that show a reasonable understanding of grammar.
You will need to read different sources of information and write a summary of what you have read.
You will be assessed on your medical and fitness ability during the security check stage of your application, after you've attended an Online Assessment Centre.
A trained nurse will carry out a medical assessment to check you can safely take part in the fitness test.
The assessment involves hearing and eyesight tests, and basic health screening including checking your blood pressure.
We test endurance using a running bleep test between two points. We also test your upper body strength to see if you can hold a 7kg riot shield or grip a piece of equipment.
We test your eyesight, with and without glasses or contact lenses if you wear them. You will need a similar standard of vision as you would for driving in the UK.
The hearing test will consist of the ‘whisper’ test, where a nurse will test your hearing from a distance of 3 metres, without the use of a hearing aid.
Tell us if you have a disability when you apply and we can offer reasonable adjustments to help with the online test and assessment centre.
If you are successful at the Assessment & Recruitment Centre (ARC), any job offer will depend on the type of vacancy.
For a ‘pass’ vacancy for the Band 3 youth justice worker role, we make a job offer immediately if there is a position available.
If there are no positions available, you will be placed on a reserve list until the next available job vacancy.
Your successful pass from assessment day will be valid for 12 months and can be used to apply for vacancies at other youth custody locations.
For ‘merit’ vacancies for the Band 3 youth justice worker role, successful applicants will be added to a merit once everyone has been to the assessment centre.
Job offers will be made first to the people who performed best at the assessment centre as positions become available.
You can stay on the merit list for 12 months. After this, you’ll need to apply again.