Pre-employment Checks

Prison officer recruits are required to go through pre-employment screening which includes security vetting as part of their application process. As a prison officer, you’re working in a position of trust. Security vetting plays a key role in assessing an individual’s integrity and so has a strong link to public trust and confidence within HMPPS. The vetting process considers several other factors. If you're in doubt about whether you need to disclose something or not, it’s best to include it. You’ll be asked to provide information on:

  • Yourself (personal information, financial information, police information, criminal history)
  • Your family (parents, parents partners, siblings, partner(s), children)
  • Co-residents
  • Associations that may cause a conflict of interest with your role or the prison service.

Prison officer Vetting also includes:

  • Background checks across police information systems on you, your family and other associates
  • Credit reference checks (to make sure money problems don't make you vulnerable to blackmail or corruption)
  • Social Media and Open Source checks (these are checks on content about you that's publicly available on the internet to ensure there's nothing linked to you that could undermine public trust and confidence in the prison service)
  • Other government and overseas agency checks.

You may also be required to complete a National Security Vetting application with the United Kingdom Security Vetting (UKSV) depending on the prison you are applying to work.

High security Prisons.

High security prisons requiring CTC vetting

If your application is successful, you will need to undergo and clear pre-employment checks. This will include His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service Enhanced Level 2 vetting, and due to the security status of the establishment Counter-Terrorism Check (CTC vetting) is also required. Proof that you have been a resident in the UK for the last 3 years is needed to complete the CTC vetting process. The residency requirements refer to the period immediately before an application is made, and not any other three-year period, or any other accumulation of time spent in the UK.

If you have been out of the country for a significant period of time (usually up to one year) and maintained your UK residency you may still be considered for vetting clearance. For example:

  • Spent a significant period of time overseas without returning to the UK, but intend to return in the future
  • Taken a gap year before or following universit
  • Travelled for a year
  • Spent time overseas visiting family

This is not an exhaustive list.

Candidates must be able to provide correct and up to date documentation when requested during the application process.

After you've submitted your vetting application our vetting team might contact you to clarify information you've provided or request additional information, which is completely normal. You must remain open and honest in your communication with them.

If your circumstances change at any point you have a personal responsibility to report this as soon as possible.

Here's a bit more detail on some factors that are considered during the vetting process:

Convictions and cautions

All convictions, cautions (including any received as a juvenile), involvement in any criminal investigation and bind-overs imposed by a court must be declared. They don't automatically mean you'll be rejected from joining the HMPPS. Each case is looked at on an individual basis. Factors taken into account include:

  • Your age at the time of the offence
  • How long ago the offence was committed
  • The nature of the offence
  • Whether there are obvious patterns of repeat behaviour

It's important to be honest. Failure to disclose this information will result in your application being rejected.

HM Forces offences

Convictions received whilst serving in HM Forces aren't treated any differently from civilian convictions. All criminal offences convicted by a military tribunal are recorded on the Police National Computer so make sure you disclose them - again, honesty is the best policy.

Right to work

To work in the Civil Service, you must evidence you have valid and current right to work in the UK and Eligibility to be a Civil Servant

Important Notice

From 4 April 2024, the Government will be increasing the salary threshold for Skilled Workers. The changes, which can be found here, mean that we cannot guarantee sponsorship in the future. Prison Officer applicants must consider options for obtaining and/or maintaining right to work in the United Kingdom. The Department will continue to comply with UK Immigration Rules applied in the UK and Civil Service.

Top tips

Here are our top tips to ensure your vetting application isn't delayed unnecessarily.

  • Be honest – declare all convictions, cautions and involvement in criminal investigations
  • Make sure you provide maiden names, dates of birth and addresses for all the people listed on your vetting forms
  • Include details of any criminal associates
  • Can’t remember or provide specific details? Include a rationale detailing why
  • Make sure all County Court Judgements (CCJs) are satisfied
  • Check your emails and your ‘junk/spam’ folder regularly. It’s an easy way to ensure you’re not missing any communications from our vetting team.

What should you declare?

Test your knowledge on what you need to declare with these common scenarios – the answers might surprise you.

Remember - if in doubt, declare it.

Documentation & Pre-employment Checks

If following your OAC you are successful and are subsequently made a provisional offer of employment, you will be asked to provide proof of right to work, ID and address.

IDVT is a form of technology operated for the purpose of verifying the identity of a person, whereby a digital copy of a physical document relating to that person is produced for verification of the document’s validity, and whether that person is the rightful holder of the document. To use this service, you must have a valid in date British or Irish passport (including passport cards) or share code and a Biometric passport that meets the ICAO specifications for e-passports, or EU/EEA biometric ID Cards that follow EC 2252/2004.

If you are unable to meet the criteria to use the IDVT service, do not worry as you will be able to have your documents verified later on in the process. If this is the case, you will receive separate instructions on the action required. The information below details what documents you will need to provide.

Proof of Right to Work

To work in the Civil Service, you must evidence you have valid and current right to work in the UK and Eligibility to be a Civil Servant by presenting 1 document from the relevant list below:

Proof of ID and Address Documentation

You must have 3 appropriate items of identification uploaded at the onboarding stage. The options will change depending on the first document you select. Please use 3 different forms of ID at this stage as the same document cannot be used more than once.


You haven't confirmed every item.

Date of Birth
Proof of Address
Photo ID
Date of Birth
Proof of Address
Photo ID
Date of Birth
Proof of Address
Photo ID

All documents must be in your current name. One of the documents must verify your current address, one must include a photograph and one must include your date of birth.

Please note EEA Passports can only be used as proof of ID and are no longer accepted as a proof of Right to Work unless endorsed to show the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and carry out the work in question.