Eligibility and Apply

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Do you have a recognised
qualification at level 5 or above?

(For example: an Honours degree, a foundation degree, a Diploma of Higher Education, a level* 5 apprenticeship, any other professional level 5 Qualification, etc)

*Level refers to the nationally recognised Qualification Credit Framework levels. See http://www.accreditedqualifications.org.uk/qualifications-and-credit-framework-qcf.html for more information.

Do you have a Level 3 Vocational Diploma
in Probation Practice or an equivalent?

A common first step to becoming a Probation Officer is to gain entry level employment as a Probation Service Officer in NPS or CRC and gain the in-house vocational level 3 Diploma in Probation Practice or equivalent. Level 3 equivalent qualifications are also offered elsewhere in the Community and Custodial Sector. Contact your local service for details. Other Level 3 qualifications including A-levels plus relevant experience may also be considered equivalent. Go to the University Providers page for more information. Alternatively, you can complete an appropriate level 5 study programme which includes the four required knowledge modules.

Required knowledge modules

Did your qualification include all of the required knowledge modules at level 5?

  • The Criminal Justice System
  • Understanding Crime and Criminal Behaviour
  • Penal Policy and the Punishment of Offenders
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders

Or if you have completed three of the four modules in your original degree (i.e. not part of a CJL access route), you currently have the opportunity to complete the fourth module during the first phase of your training programme and can answer yes.

You will need to complete an appropriate level 5 study programme or, if you already have a level 5 qualification, you will need to complete the four required knowledge modules before applying for the level 6 training programme.

NOMS contracted university providers can help you with this. It may be in the form of pre-entry modules to gain additional credits or a qualification.

NOMS contracted university providers may also be able to accredit any prior learning you have already completed and award you credits for this. Once you have covered any gaps in your knowledge modules, you will be able to proceed to the next stage.

Step 1

You should complete the required level 4
assignment(s) with an approved university.

Go to the university providers page for more information.

Relevant experience

Do you have previous experience of working with challenging individuals who are experiencing difficulties and/or whose lives are in crisis?

You will need to gain the relevant experience through voluntary work or paid employment.

Step 2

After Step 1, you should complete a recognised level 5 qualification with an approved university provider, which includes the following four required knowledge modules.

  • The Criminal Justice System
  • Understanding Crime and Criminal Behaviour
  • Penal Policy and the Punishment of Offenders
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders

Gateway Assessment Service

Before application, you will need to confirm that you have covered the required knowledge modules. Our approved university providers can do this for you and provide you with a unique reference number to include in your application.

Please read the Eligibility & Apply page for more information.

After completing Steps 1 and 2; you are now eligible to apply for the level 6 Professional Qualification in Probation.

Completion of this qualification qualifies you to apply for Probation Officer roles across the sector.

Please click here to apply.

Application and selection process

Assessment will be based on a set of core competencies and relevant experience. These will be assessed at assessment centres. We anticipate that there will be two intakes each year. Please click here to apply.

You can begin a level 6 Professional Qualification in Probation employed as a Probation Service Officer. Upon qualification, you can apply for Probation Officer roles across the sector.

Gateway Assessment Service

Before applying, HMPPS will need to make sure that you have a level 5 or above qualification and check that you have covered the required knowledge modules. This is done by HMPPS' contracted university providers using a process called the Gateway Assessment Service.

The universities will review your education/qualification and modules and confirm whether you meet the eligibility criteria (you will need your degree certificate and a copy of your transcript available to show). If you do qualify, they will give you a unique Gateway Assessment Number (or, GAS ID Number) which you'll need to enter into the application form, when applications are open. This process can take two to four weeks.

If you're missing any of the knowledge modules, the universities will advise you about what you need to do next.

To begin the process of getting your unique GAS ID Number you will need to contact one of our HMPPS contracted university providers.

The Application Form

Here’s a brief overview of the information you’ll need when applying to us. The decision we make about your application is based entirely on the information given on your application form, so please take the time to read through these notes and complete the form accurately and fully. To apply, you’ll need to provide us with:

  • A GAS ID Number, confirming your eligibility.
  • Your personal details including your full name, address, contact numbers and proof of your right to work in the UK.
  • Details of your current or most recent employment.
  • Any unpaid or voluntary experience.
  • The names and details of at least two referees, including your most recent or current line manager and employer.
  • Details of your educational background, qualifications and any relevant training you have.

Competency questions

You’ll be asked to complete a section of competency-based questions on the form. These give you the opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the probation service. The examples you provide and the way you communicate them will be used to help us decide who will be taken forward to the next stage – so it’s worth spending some time thinking about which examples you’ll use and how they’ll give you an advantage.

Equal opportunities monitoring form

We aim to be an equal opportunities employer – and our ability to know and use statistical data about the backgrounds of our people is crucial to that goal. To get that information, we ask that you please complete all the equal opportunities questions given on the application form. Your answers will be treated completely confidentially and won’t affect your application in any way.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

You’ll need to declare all convictions, cautions and absolute or conditional discharges when you apply. All of our positions are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act – meaning that all convictions must be disclosed, no matter when they occurred. We believe that people can change, so a conviction will not automatically disbar you but any non-disclosure would.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.

Ministry of Justice's recruitment processes are underpinned by the principle of selection for appointment on merit on the basis of fair and open competition as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

If you have an enquiry you can contact the Civil Service Commission between 08:00 - 18:00 Monday - Friday on 0845 010 3512.

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Principles and you wish to make a complaint, you should contact Ministry of Justice in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can contact the Civil Service Commission.

Application tips

Applying for any job can be difficult – and it’s easy to overlook certain aspects of what you’re doing. We’ve put together some tips to help you to make the most of the process:

  • Do your research. Find out about the service and familiarise yourself with our work, purpose and structure.
  • Read the job profile. Pay particular attention to the job’s purpose and the skills needed. You’ll need to show how you match what we’re looking for, so be sure that the role fits your abilities.
  • Tailor your answers to meet the particular requirements outlined in the job description, rather than cutting and pasting from another application.
  • Highlight relevant experience and think about your achievements in the roles you’re writing about – such as overcoming particular problems or meeting certain targets.
  • When listing qualifications, be sure to include the ones that are relevant to the job profile.
  • Don’t just list all your previous jobs. Use each role to demonstrate and explain how it has prepared you for the role you’re applying for now.
  • Include references. We’ll need to be able to contact them so please include addresses, phone numbers and emails for both of your two referees. And remember, one of them should be your current or most recent line manager or employer. It’s always a good idea to tell them that we will be in touch.
  • Security vetting clearance will be required if your application is successful.
  • Check and check again. Use a spell checker, get a friend to read your application and give yourself time to proof and edit your application. You don’t want to miss out because of a typo, or missing information.

When to apply

There are usually two intakes per year, one in late spring and one in the autumn. The expected start date for each intake will be advertised when applications open.

Download our Recruitment Process PDF and Decision Tree PDF.

Applications are expected to open again in Winter 2017. Please click on the button below to register your interest in becoming a trainee Probation Officer.


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