Application process

Unlocked Graduates is now registering interest for applications to our 2019 cohort, beginning in July 2019.

Our unique two-year leadership development programme is an exciting opportunity for you to acquire skills and experience that will be valuable in a variety of roles, and to make an important contribution to a serious problem in the UK.

  • Check your eligibility

    Before beginning the application form, please read our entry requirements. We also advise that you complete our prison scenario test to give you more insight into the role.

  • Application form

    The application form is made up of competency and strengths-based questions relating to the attributes we are looking for in candidates. There is also a question that involves uploading a video of yourself. This gives you the opportunity to highlight your skills and explain your motivations for applying to the programme. You can read instructions for this in our FAQ section.

    We recommend that you spend a week or two preparing your application form.

    Ready to apply? Apply now.

  • Assessment centre

    If your application is successful, you will be invited to an assessment centre. These typically run from the end of November and you will be offered a choice of dates.

    At the assessment centre you will complete a number of activities. These are designed to assess you against the attributes that we look for in candidates and also to give you an insight into the role of a prison officer and the Unlocked programme. Activities will include an interview, role play and a group-based task. You will be assessed by experienced professionals and meet individuals who have experience of the prison system.

    The assessment centre is the final stage of the process and you will find out within two weeks of attending if you have been successful.

  • Conditional offer

    If you are offered a place on the Unlocked Graduates programme, your offer will be based on a number of conditions being fulfilled prior to starting the programme.

    • Evidence of your right to work in the UK and your academic qualifications
    • Your references proving satisfactory
    • Your success in passing medical and fitness checks
    • Your passing of the vetting process and receiving a satisfactory Disclosure Barred Services (DBS) certificate
    • You accepting a placement that we offer you and completing a day of shadowing in a prison

      • Support

        As soon as you receive a conditional offer to join Unlocked Graduates, you will have a main point of contact in the Recruitment team who will guide you through your offer journey. Your Recruitment Officer will be able to respond to any queries or concerns you have and keep you updated on opportunities to meet and communicate with your fellow participants.

      • The health and fitness assessment

        The health and fitness assessment is the standard prison service fitness test and a medical evaluation, including an eyesight test, to ensure you are fit for the role. The health and fitness test can be completed on a weekday from the time you receive your conditional offer, taking into account your schedule. Please note that you will be given a deadline by which this must have been completed.

        The fitness test comprises of a bleep test to a standard of 5.4, an agility assessment, a grip strength test and an endurance shield test. You may have up to three attempts to pass the fitness test and the recruitment team can offer advice on training for this where required.



      • Prison immersion day

        As part of your conditional offer, you’ll undertake an immersion day in one of our placement prisons.

        While we want to make sure that you feel comfortable in the prison’s environment, it’s also a great opportunity to learn about the daily running of a prison and get a better understanding of the day-to-day life of a prisoner and a prison officer.

        The day will usually consist of visiting the education and medical settings of the prison and also experience what it’s like to work in the landings of the prison’s wings. The immersion day will also be a good opportunity for you to think about how you can have an impact on the prison you’re placed in.

      • Ministry of Justice vetting

        We require all of our participants to go through the standard Ministry of Justice vetting process for all incoming prison officers.

        This check will flag up previous convictions or cautions that you might have. If you are concerned about any past cautions that might impede your progression onto Unlocked Graduates, please feel free to get in touch with a member of the recruitment team.

        You may be asked to provide evidence from another country if you have lived outside of the UK for an extended period of time so please mention this to a member of the recruitment team if you think you will be affected.

        As part of the MoJ induction process, you will also be required to complete some additional paperwork, including ordering your uniform and a new starter form.

      • Cohort launch event

        Before the official start of your training, we’ll hold a Cohort Launch Event for all of our participants.

        Throughout the day, you’ll be briefed on the Summer Institute in more detail and you’ll be able to ask any last burning questions that you may have. It will also be the first time you meet your fellow classmates who you’ll be working with throughout your time in your placement prison. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet motivational speakers and our supporters from around the sector, including your Mentoring Prison Officers.

      • Prison Placement

        Unlocked Graduates decides where to place participants based on the needs of the prisons that we work with. We do try, where possible, to take your preferences into account and will ask you further details on this at the offer stage. Please be aware, however, that it is not always possible to cater to everyone’s preferences. This process will happen once all the conditional offers have been made so you should get confirmation of your prison placement in the spring time.

Please make sure that you have read about the programme and the entry requirements before progressing further with your application. Please do not hesitate to contact us.



Suggested reads: