Qualifications and Eligibility
There are 9 qualification levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and they all represent higher education (HE) qualifications.
To be eligible to apply to the PQiP programme, you must hold a valid Level 5 qualification in one of the following:
- A diploma of higher education (DipHE)
- A foundation degree
- A higher national diploma (HND)
- A level 5 award
- A level 5 certificate
- A level 5 diploma
- A level 5 NVQ
If you are successful in reaching the Online Assessment Centre stage of the application process, you must be able to provide evidence that you have successfully passed a Level 5 (or above) qualification by producing a valid certificate when asked at the start of your Online Assessment Centre. If you have not yet undergone your graduation ceremony, or have still not received your certificate at the time of the Online Assessment Centre, you can instead produce a valid transcript from the university as evidence, or a letter of confirmation of your pass mark from your education provider.
Please note: If you are unable to produce evidence of a Level 5 qualification, then you will not be able to continue with your Online Assessment Centre and your application will be withdrawn.
Key stakeholders were involved throughout its design, including the Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), HMPPS, Skills for Justice, the Probation Institute, NAPO and Unison.
The qualification is underpinned by the National Occupational Standards, which were created with national consultation across the Community Justice Sector.
To be eligible for the 15-month PQiP programme, you need to have studied modules on at least three of the following four topics as part of a degree (or equivalent):
- Criminal Justice System
- Understanding Crime and Criminal Behaviour
- Penal Policy and Punishment
You’ll go on to complete whichever module is missing as part of the PQiP programme within the first six months.
If your qualification doesn’t include these subjects you’ll most likely study the 21-month PQiP programme (the first six months will cover all four modules).
If you don’t have a degree – relevant or otherwise – and you don’t have relevant experience either: don’t worry.
You can still apply to become a probation services officer (PSO), and take on similar work to a fully-qualified probation officer. The main difference is, you won’t work with the highest risk offenders or on the most complex cases.
If you have no experience or studies in the area, you’ll combine your work with a comprehensive induction programme and PSO development programme which will enable you to apply to the PQiP programme internally at a later stage in your career.
Click here to learn more about qualification levels.
Alternatively, you can check out our other roles available within HMPPS which include Approved Premises Residential Workers and Community Payback Supervisors.
Yes, you can take the CJL qualifications in their own right. You do not need to be applying for the PQiP programme to undertake them.
Relevant experience is essentially time spent working with offenders or other individuals exhibiting challenging behaviours or whose lives are in crisis.
This could be in or outside the Community Justice sector, in either a paid or voluntary capacity.
However, there’s no formal weighting to any type of experience with challenging individuals. Its relevance is at the discretion of the hiring team.
You will need to provide a Statement of Comparability from the National Academic Recognition Information Centre UK (NARIC) to verify that your qualification is equivalent to a UK level 5 qualification.
The recruitment process is usually around 8-9 months. Allocations to PQiP vacancy locations are based on merit from assessment scores in line with the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles; and also based on vacancy availability. Therefore, if it is not possible to place you into a suitable vacancy location at the next intake, you will remain on the merit list and your application will be carried forward to the following intake or there may be an opportunity to join the Probation Service in an alternative role. Candidates are able to remain on the merit list for 12 months.
The process has a number of stages, including a written application and a half-day online assessment event. Candidate selection uses the Civil Service Success Profile framework. Please ensure you are familiar with the nature of success profiles.
The initial four-week induction is hugely important, so we suggest that you ensure you’re available for every working day during this period.
We understand that support requests are unique to every applicant and we will work with you to identify your individual requirements. This might mean accommodating challenges you have with core literacy skills, such as granting extra time to complete reading and writing exercises, or ensuring information is shared with you in an accessible format (e.g. increased font size). Find out more about our reasonable adjustments.
PQiP learners in the Probation Service are employed on permanent probation services officer contracts and will be expected to undertake routine PSO tasks during the training programme. Learners will also be allocated some study time towards the required learning components, however please note that further study will need to be undertaken in their own time and the amount varies depending on individual learning styles.
Unfortunately, no. PQiP vacancies are linked to business need. So, there’s no guarantee that one will be open in a location near you. Plus, all posts are assigned according to candidates’ assessment scores – including if you already work for HMPPS. If your application is successful but there are no vacancies in your area, you will be placed on a reserve list and will be offered a job as soon as there is a vacancy, or there may be an opportunity to join the Probation Service in an alternative role. Your successful pass from the assessment day will be valid for 12 months.
If you are successful in your application, you will receive a provisional offer letter, subject to the availability of suitable vacancy locations, within a reasonable commute distance. Please note that placement during that intake is not guaranteed as vacancies are determined by business need. Allocation of successful candidates into PQiP vacancies is by fair and open competition based on merit from assessment scores and PDU preferences. If it is not possible to place you into a suitable vacancy location due to insufficient vacancies, you will remain on the merit list and your application will be carried forward to the following intake. Candidates are able to remain on the merit list for 12 months.
If your application is successful you will need to undergo and clear pre-employment checks as part of the recruitment process. This will include His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Enhanced Level 2 vetting. Once in post as a trainee probation officer, access to the multi-agency ViSOR database will be required as part of your role and you will therefore be required to undertake Non-Police Personnel Vetting (NPPV) Level 2. Proof that you have been a resident in the UK for the last 3 years is required to complete the NPPV2 vetting process. If you do not successfully pass NPPV vetting, you will be unable to access the ViSOR database and may not be able to fulfil the full requirements of the role/complete the PQiP qualification/may be redeployed to another role. In the unlikely event where failure occurs, an internal investigation may be commissioned to understand the reasons for NPPV failure and if/where we can redeploy you. If this is not possible, we will be required to terminate your employment.
Throughout the organisation, we strongly believe people can change. A conviction does not necessarily mean you cannot be a probation officer. However, failure to disclose information will put an end to your application, as we expect a high level of integrity from all those who we employ.
For further information regarding suitable documents for vetting purposes, please download our pre-employment guidance document [pqip-ac.co.uk].
PQiP learners in the Probation Service are employed on permanent Probation Services Officer contracts and will be expected to undertake routine PSO tasks during the training programme. Once qualified as a Probation Officer, a new contract will be issued and you’ll move to the Probation Officer pay scale.
Please note that placements in particular office locations are not guaranteed and subject to business need. The Probation Service operates on a cluster model which means you may be allocated to any of the probation delivery units (PDU) in your region.
If your application is successful but there are no vacancies in your area, you will be placed on a reserve list and will be offered a job as soon as there is a vacancy. Your successful pass from the assessment day will be valid for 12 months.
If you are unsuccessful, you may re-apply to the next PQiP campaign. You may also wish to consider other roles within HMPPS to gain further experience, such as probation services officer, prison officer, operational support grade, community payback supervisor or approved premises residential worker.
You can register on the Civil Service Jobs website to receive email alerts.
Please also visit the Prison & Probation Jobs website.
Unsuccessful candidates receive feedback after attending their online assessment centre (OAC) which is contained in a results letter, focusing on performance in each of the behaviours being tested.
Current Civil Servant
Employees working in the Probation Service who successfully apply to the PQiP programme will need to move from their current office location to a new location as a probation services officer PQiP learner. There are no guarantees that PQiP vacancies will be available at their current work location In line with fair and open competition, allocations of successful candidates are made based on merit from assessment scores.
Successful candidates who are allocated to a PQiP vacancy office location will be issued with a new internal contract. There is no need to resign from your position as an internal move within HMPPS will be managed accordingly.
No. If you’re a civil servant and member of the PCSPS, You’ll be opted out of it and auto-enrolled into the Local Government Pension Scheme when you accept our offer of employment.
PQiP programme and beyond
Study is a blend work-based learning and distance learning through our partner university providers, Sheffield Hallam University, Liverpool John Moores, DeMonfort University and the University of Portsmouth. You’ll attend online and face to face learning events. Learners will be allocated some study time towards the required learning components. However please note that further study will need to be undertaken in their own time and the amount varies depending on individual learning styles.
If you apply for North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, you will study at Sheffield Hallam University.
If you apply for North West, or Greater Manchester you will study at Liverpool John Moores.
If you apply for KSS, you’ll study at De Monfort University.
If you apply for East and West Midlands, London, East of England, South Central, South West or Wales, you will study at University of Portsmouth.
During the PQiP application process, you will be asked to rank your preference of Probation Delivery Unit (PDU) within your chosen Probation region. This is the geographical area where your office will be located. Please ensure you are happy with the PDU preference you select, as once your training begins, we may not be able to facilitate moves to other PDUs or regions. Upon successful completion of your PQiP training, you will qualify as a Probation Officer, and your office location will be allocated to you by the business.
Talks are ongoing between the Probation Service and recognised trade unions on proposals to introduce a business need requirement which, subject to the outcome of those forthcoming talks, may result in a requirement for new PQiPs to remain within the region in which they have trained for at least two years post-qualification. As part of these proposals, we would ensure that compassionate or reasonable adjustment transfers continue to be considered in accordance with Probation Service policy. If implemented, such criteria would not affect your right to apply for promotions during the period outside of your region.
Reasonable Adjustments don’t just apply to applications or the programme itself. You’ll also receive support on the job should you need it. As an employer it is a legal requirement for us to provide reasonable adjustments should need it.
If you are offered a place on the programme, please speak to line manager is if you require any on-the-job reasonable adjustments. If you are an external applicant you will complete a health questionnaire as part of your pre-employment checks, should you require adjustments to complete your job this can be discussed and agreed at this stage.
You’ll have a positive impact from day one. And in return, you can expect to:
- complete either a 15 or 21-month fully funded study programme that leads to Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP) certification
- Competitive salary with 3-year guaranteed pay review. Career progression opportunities
- enjoy 25 days’ annual leave (30 days after 5 years) plus 8 public holidays
- join the Local Government Pension Scheme.
Not necessarily. The location you are originally based at when you join the service may not be your final base due to transition work that our estates are undertaking over the next four years.
As part of the Probation Reform Programme the Estates Programme is delivering a four year modernisation strategy. This will create modern sites with the right atmosphere for staff and service users and enable smarter working.
To qualify as a probation officer, you must pass both the vocational and the applied academic elements of the PQiP programme.
If you don’t pass, depending on the circumstances you’ll either remain in post as a probation services officer or may be asked to leave. The decision will be made by your employer.