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Leading change
on the inside

Leading change
on the inside

What we do

Unlocked Graduates is working to break cycles of reoffending by identifying brilliant people and supporting them to spend two years working as frontline prison officers. We challenge them to come up with new ideas to improve the way prisons work across the country.

The Unlocked Graduates programme was one of the key recommendations of the Coates’ Review of prison education. The report argued that education needs to be put at the heart of the prison service if Government is serious about the rehabilitation of prisoners. It also called for the creation of a new scheme to encourage graduates from top universities to work as prison officers for an initial period of two years.

Unlocked Graduates was launched in 2016 to answer this challenge. Our programme has now been running for over five years and we have placed over 500 officers in prisons across London, the South East, West Midlands and North West of the UK.

We have placed over 500 prison officers in 29 establishments.

This is more than one quarter of public prisons in England and 20% of the prisoner population.

Named Graduate Scheme of the Year at the 2018 Personnel Today Awards, ranked 37th in the Escape 100 awards in 2019, and rose to 36th place in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers in 2020, Unlocked has transformed the way the prison officer job is seen on campus.

We are a Times Top 100 Graduate Employer

We entered the list at No.49 in 2019 (the highest new entrant in over 10 years)

Diversity, equality, inclusion in the prison system is a high priority for Unlocked. We celebrate the diversity of our participants, and put the full weight of our support behind campaigns and initiatives promoting equality and inclusion.

Our prison officers have received numerous accolades and early promotions – two of our participants recently received High Sheriff Awards for their excellent key-working and some of the first cohort now manage our more recent recruits and other officers on the landings.

Unlocked Graduates was supported to success in its incubation state by Catch22, the social business and charity. Since 2020 we have operated independently as a registered charity.

We work in partnership with the Leeds Trinity University to deliver our Master’s degree. We also have close links with the other public service graduate schemes, allowing us to share expertise across sectors.

Find out more about our partnerships and how you can support us.