The application process

1. Apply online (10+ minutes)

Enter important personal details, such as your nationality and right to work in the UK. We use these to check you’re eligible to be a youth justice worker.

What you will need:

  • – National Insurance number
  • – employment history
  • – evidence of your qualification at level 4 or above (if applying for the fast-track programme)

2. Online test (35 minutes)

You will be sent two tests – the scenario-based test presenting you with different situations you might face in the role, and the numerical test.

We use these to check you have the basic numeracy skills and behaviours expected of a youth justice worker.

Questions may mention about being a prison officer as we use the same tests for a prison officer application.

We are checking to see if you have the abilities and behaviours to work in Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS).

You will have to answer specific youth custody questions later if you’re successful at this stage.

We will let you know immediately if you pass the online test.

If you are successful, we will invite you to attend an Assessment & Recruitment Centre (ARC).

3. Assessment centre (1/2 day)

We test to see if you have the abilities, behaviours, strengths and fitness to be a youth justice worker.

We also carry out an eyesight test, a hearing test and a basic health screening (including blood pressure check).

Before you come to the Assessment & Recruitment Centre (ARC) we will give you more information about what to expect and bring on the day.

4. Background checks (12+ weeks)

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.

5. Site visit (if offered)

Your application may involve a visit to familiarise yourself with the young custody location where you will work.

The site visit is a great chance to meet serving youth justice workers and see what the job is like.

Before you start

Check if you are eligible to become a youth justice worker. You will need to:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have the right to work in the UK
  • be reasonably fit
  • have good eyesight and hearing

Essential skills

You don’t need qualifications to become a youth justice worker. Personal qualities are more important.

We expect you to demonstrate the following:

  • good communication and influencing skills
  • commitment to quality
  • effective decision-making
  • care and understanding

Are you right for a role in youth custody?

Youth justice worker role practice

Have a go at our activity. Find out more about working in youth custody and see if you are suited to the job.

See if you are right for a youth custody role

Get ready for the online tests

We use online scenarios to see if you have the judgement and skills to be a youth justice worker.

During the online tests you will be asked how you would deal with situations you might face working in youth custody including:

  • judging the effectiveness of actions
  • solving basic numeracy and counting tasks

Test how you would handle youth custody situations

Take the practice numerical test

What happens at the assessment centre?

The Assessment & Recruitment Centre (ARC) tests whether you have the abilities, behaviours, strengths and fitness for the job.

We will send you details before you go.

Role play icon Two speech balloons next to each other, offset vertically and horizontally from each other
Role plays

You will be asked to take on the role of a youth justice worker who is interacting with a young person 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.

Numerical test

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.

Reading and writing

We check your writing ability and whether you can use written sources to make effective decisions.

You will need clear, legible handwriting and 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.

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Health check

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.

Disability support

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.

Find out about reasonable adjustments

Job offers

If you are successful at the Assessment & Recruitment Centre (ARC), any job offer will depend on the type of vacancy.

Fast-track programme

If you are applying to the youth justice worker specialist fast-track programme, we will offer 20 positions to successful applicants.

The positions will be divided between 4 youth custody locations, so 5 positions will be available at each site (except STC Medway).

The 20 candidates will be selected from a list of those who have successfully completed the online tests, passed an assessment centre, and completed vetting and reference requests by April 2019.

Next available job

For ‘pass’ vacancies, 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.

Merit list

For ‘merit’ vacancies, 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.