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Prison Support Roles

Join Our Team

HM Prison & Probation Service

What is an Operational Support Grade?

It takes teamwork to manage our prisons – and you’ll be a key player, working as one of the Operational Support staff.

Our Operational Support staff are at the heart of a busy prison and will often be one of the first faces the public and people working in criminal justice see when they visit a prison. On a shift pattern, that includes some night work, you’ll support the day-to-day running of our prisons, working to keep our establishments safe and secure around the clock.

Unlike our prison officers, your contact with prisoners is limited, although depending on the particular prison you may interact with offenders occasionally.

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Things you need to know

In a typical day, you could be doing anything from greeting visitors at reception, to registering offenders and carrying out searches.

Here are just some of the things you’ll do as part of our Operational Support team:

  • welcome family members, visitors and lawyers
  • monitor offender mail and phone calls
  • check CCTV
  • patrol perimeters
  • carry out security checks and searches
  • report contraband items
  • occasional prison vehicle driving in some establishments.

You’ll be working for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Services (HMPPS), which is part of the Ministry of Justice.

HMPPS is responsible for managing all prison and probation services across England and Wales.

Being part of the prison and probation service means you’ll have opportunities across the entire estate.

For more information about HMPPS and what we do, click here.

The salary figures quoted are for a 37 hour working week inclusive of a 17% unsocial hours working allowance and any additional market supplement payment that will only be paid at certain locations.

Please click below to find our more about the classifications of our prisons.

National A – £20,995
Aylesbury, Bedford, Bullingdon, Coldingley, Cookham Wood, Elmley, Grendon, Highpoint, Huntercombe, Send, Standford Hill, Swaleside, The Mount

National B – £20,095
All other locations outside of London

Outer London A – £24,081
Downview, Feltham, High Down

Outer London B – £23,206
Belmarsh, Isis

Inner London – £24,829
Brixton, Pentonville, Wandsworth, Wormword Scubs

Part of the package

As well as a competitive salary, you’ll receive two weeks of paid  training, a Civil Service pension, five weeks annual leave per year, and many other benefits, as well as access to a paid Level 2 Apprenticeship in Customer Service.

Earn while you learn

All of our training is paid, so you can start earning straight away. Your starting salary will depend on where you will be working.

Career Progression

As part of our Operational Support team, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to progress your career within the prison workforce. You’ll be able to transition into back office support roles, or perhaps consider applying to be a prison officer and beyond.

As part of the national Prison and Probation service, you’ll have opportunities across the service.

The apprenticeships logo showcasing the fully funded apprenticeships opportunity

Fully funded apprenticeships opportunity

Once you are successfully recruited into the OSG role you will be offered an exciting opportunity to complete a level 2 customer service apprenticeship (on the job learning) . The apprenticeship will be undertaken alongside your new role and will provide you with the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours in order to fulfill your role to the highest standard within your workplace. You will achieve a nationally recognised level 2 qualification and will also have the opportunity to achieve level 1 functional skills in Maths and English if you do not already obtain these.

The programme will run for 14 months and you will be supported by our training provider Knowledgepool who will support you with your own skills coach throughout your learning. Following starting  in your establishment you will be offered further information on this exciting opportunity for you to accept.

As a key role in the day-to-day management of our prison, no job is too big or too small for our Operational Support staff.

We want to recruit people who are:

  • responsible and trustworthy
  • collaborative and like to work as part of a team
  • confident, warm and welcoming
  • problem solvers, who remain calm under pressure
  • detail-orientated, and follow rules and processes closely.

You’ll also:

  • be 18 years +
  • have the right to work in the U.K.
  • ideally hold a valid driving licence (but this is not essential)
  • have basic maths, spelling and grammar skills
  • speak fluent English
  • be able to read the time in 24-hour format
  • have clear and legible handwriting
  • have basic I.T. skills, and experience using Word and email.

Please note, for roles in the High Security prisons, you must have been resident in the UK for the last 3 years.

If you think you’ve got what it takes, then start your application today.

Stage 1

Tell us about yourself

Fill in your personal details on our application form; name, age and contact details.

Take a short, online test

When you apply, you will receive an email with detailed instructions on how to take our online test.

This is a behaviour-based assessment which checks that you have the right natural strengths and preferences to become an Operational Support Grade. This will take around 40 minutes to complete, but there is no time limit.

You don’t need experience completing on-line tests, we’re just looking for your natural ability to succeed in the role.

Before you take the real test, we recommend taking a practice assessment through our Firefly Freedom mobile app. This will help to prepare you for the real test.

You will receive information and a code on how to download the practice test and the actual test once you apply.

Stage 2

If you pass the test, it’s time to meet and we’ll invite you for an interview.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s social distancing requirements that are in force, we are taking the necessary measures to ensure both candidate and staff safety and, as a result, some prisons are now conducting interviews online. All details will be sent to you before your interview.

If you are due to attend an interview in person but have any concerns, please let us know and we can discuss alternative options.

The interview is the ideal opportunity to tell us more about yourself, your work history or personal experiences, so we can get to know you better, and assess how you will be suited to prison work.

In the interview, you will be asked a combination of behaviour-based and strength-based questions.

  • behaviour-based questions will explore your past experiences and achievements
  • strength-based questions will focus on what motivates and energises you.

For both types of questions, we want you to give examples and go into as much detail as possible. You don’t need to have worked in a prison before to do well – you can use examples from your personal and professional experiences.

In the interview, we will also assess your ability to speak and understand English, which is a Government requirement in public-facing roles, such as the Operational Support Grade, where you will be engaging with prisoners and visitors daily.

How to prepare

To prepare for the behaviour-based questions, think about what you have done in the past, that could demonstrate the qualities and behaviours we are looking for in our Operational Support Grade.

These are:

Communicating and Influencing (show that you are a ‘people’ person)

You communicate clearly, concisely, and with confidence. You listen to others and adapt your communication style to suit the situation and audience.

Working Together (show that you are a team player)

You develop good working relationships with others and are a positive and supportive team member.

Managing a Quality Service (show that you are detail-orientated)

You show excellent attention to detail and follow processes and rules. You have a strong work ethic and are willing to learn and improve.

Delivering at Pace (show that you are a quick thinker)

You are highly resilient and quickly adapt to change. You are self-motivated and confident and show determination and drive to solve problems and achieve results.

Try to think of a few examples you could talk about on the day.

No specific preparation is required for the strength-based questions, but you might find it helpful to think about why you would like to become an Operational Support staff, as well as personal strengths you can bring to the role. We’re interested in what motivates and energises you.

If you are finding it difficult to identify your own strengths, consider talking to family members or friends, for their opinions and ideas.

To read our Reasonable Adjustments information, click here.

People Stories

Hear from other Operational Support Team colleagues about the role.

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Find the latest Operational Support jobs near you and apply now.

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