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Operational Assurance Manager (Custody) – 48758
£42,626 - £5,115,444,898


We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit:

Overview of the job

Accountable to the Head of Operational Audit (HOA) and reporting to the Operational Audit Lead (OAL) for a designated Area, the OAM will be a key Manager within the National Operational Audit Team. They will be accountable for delivering effective operational audit and quality assurance services in order to inform and support operational and commercial contract management, commissioning and system development activity. The OAM will be accountable for delivering discrete elements of the Directorate’s Annual Service Quality Assurance Plan (ASQAP) in their designated area.

The OAM will contribute to the audit and assurance of the quality of delivery of contracted services amounting to a total estimated value of around £600 million per annum. The OAM is accountable for delivering effective and efficient audit and assurance activity in their designated Area. They will critically analyse and quality assure delivery of commissioned services, in order to inform the management of CRC contracts. These Contracts amount to a total value of between around £145 million and £163 million in each Area.

The OAM will develop effective working relationships with local Contract Management teams and with Providers in relation to the audit and assurance of contract delivery in their area. They will represent the OA Team in their designated Area, liaising with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders including: CRC Managers, Governors, HMI Probation and HMI Prisons and will deputise for the OAL as required.


The OAM will undertake localised in depth operational audit work to support the Area Contract Management Team (CMT). They will use their analytical skills to make independent judgements about Contractor performance and the quality of services delivered.  The information, analysis and advice provided by the OAM will support the CMTs in assuring the delivery of service outcomes and improved value for money, across the rehabilitation system covering the CRCs and the interfaces between contractor, the NPS, prisons, and other providers such as EM and BASS in their designated Area.

The OAM will be accountable for delivering specific aspects of the ASQAP in their Area. They will provide an objective and independent view of the delivery of contracted service requirements, and related processes and activities.

The OAM will deliver ‘inspection’ style assurance activities across a number of CPAs, critically assessing operational practice in order to identify good, innovative practice, and areas for improvement. CMTs may commission specific audit and assurance activity where they identify issues of concern that warrant further in depth investigation.

The OAM will work collaboratively with other OAMs, with CMT colleagues and with colleagues from other HMPPS/MoJ functions. The OAM will work across a number of CPAs and CMT Areas for efficiency and effectiveness and to inform comparisons across the country.

The OAM will make recommendations based on their audit/assurance activity findings in order to inform operational and commercial contract management, service integration, service planning, development and commissioning, and system development activity.

The geographical base for the OAM post can be flexible within their contract management Area, and will require some work in London and other locations.

The post-holder may be required to carry out other tasks commensurate with the nature of the role and grade of the post.

Responsibilities, Activities and Duties

The job holder will be required to carry out the following responsibilities, activities and duties:

  • Managing operational audit and assurance services for a designated Area team in order to provide assurance about the delivery of contracted services:
  • Reviewing, observing and monitoring provider delivery, and assessing and making independent judgements about Provider data.
  • Critically assessing operational audit data and intelligence to support the Area CMT in assuring service delivery against contractual requirements, to inform performance management, payments, monitoring of provider interface points and issue/dispute resolution as required
  • Leading focused in depth operational audit activity e.g. spot-checks and planned ‘inspection’ style audits
  • Accountable for delivering effective audit activity within their Area, contributing to the development and delivery of the Directorate’s ASQAP
  • Accountable for working collaboratively with other Operational Assurance Managers and CMT colleagues (in particular the Senior Area Contract Manager) to provide an effective and consistent operational audit resource that will inform and support contract management and system development activities.
  • Accountable for ensuring that local operational audit practice is consistent with the strategic approach and is informed by Audit and Inspection findings and current research, evidence and good practice.
  • Working on their own initiative to identify key themes, examples of good practice and areas for improvement, and making recommendations to inform service integration, planning, development and commissioning, and system development activity.
  • Accountable for making informed judgements about offender management practice and service delivery based on audit and assurance findings.
  • Accountable for analysing information to support the resolution of operational issues and/or disputes between providers
  • Accountable for liaising and collaborating with management teams and HMPPS support functions to ensure that local operational audit activities are effective and efficient
  • Deputising for and representing the OAL as required.
  • Representing the OAT with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders at Management level.

The duties/responsibilities listed above describe the post as it is at present and is not intended to be exhaustive. The job holder is expected to accept reasonable alterations and additional tasks of a similar level that may be necessary. Significant adjustments may require re‐examination under the Job Evaluation Scheme and shall be discussed in the first instance with the job holder.


  • Seeing the bigger picture
  • Communicating and influencing
  • Changing and Improving
  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Working Together


Experience and skills relevant to management, operational audit of services, contract management and/or commissioning are required:

The essential requirements for this post would include:

  • Experience of working in the probation service or a comparable operational environment (e.g. within the criminal justice system or involving delivery of offender/public services), at management level
  • In depth operational knowledge of probation and/or prison service delivery
  • Knowledge of contract and performance management and/or service development and commissioning of community based offender services
  • Knowledge and understanding of policy and operational practice in relation to the delivery of offender services in the community and ‘Through the Gate’, and the relevant legislative frameworks
  • Knowledge of operational audit policy, practice and procedures, such as inspection and audit, preferably in a criminal justice setting
  • Experience and skills in relation to audit and/or assurance activity
  • Experience and skills in relation to analysing and implementing findings from inspections and audits
  • An understanding of the challenges involved in assuring the delivery of large complicated commercial contracts, and experience of assessing the performance of complex services


  • Sound judgement, and good communication and analytical skills
  • Ability to influence and negotiate with stakeholders at a management level in a complex and multi layered delivery landscape
  • Project management experience and skills
  • Practical ability to achieve demanding objectives.
  • Vocational experience

Hours of Work 


Additional Information

Overview of the Job

The Operational and System Assurance Group (OSAG) provides operational assurance for Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and the Ministry of Justice on the delivery of offender services including outcomes and value for money across prison and probation services.

The OSAG Custodial Assurance team is responsible for assuring the quality of delivery of custodial services, including the contracted estate and the youth custodial estate. The team has a key role in providing assurance to the operational line in HMPPS on the quality of offender services provided across the prison and youth custodial system and working with OSAG community assurance colleagues. This also includes analysing the findings from our assurance work and producing thematic reports on particular topics.

Operational Assurance Managers are accountable to the Operational Assurance Leads (OALs) who manage the work of the custodial assurance team. You may be based at any HMPPS location, however; the role will require frequent travel to prisons and young offender institutions with overnight stays and some occasional travel to London and other HMPPS and MoJ locations.

Summary of the role

As an Operational Assurance Manager, you will use assurance methodology to assess the quality of prison and youth custody delivery to strengthen learning across the estate, promote effective practice and improve the services provided. You will work closely with colleagues in prison establishments, regions, youth custodial sites and in policy. This is an interesting and exciting role within OSAG which will allow the post holder to develop an understanding of key operational practice and processes that support quality outcomes for prisoners and children and young people in secure care. The post provides the opportunity for OAMs to lead on specific subject matters for the team such as safety, education, healthcare and to improve existing assurance products and develop new ones. There is also the opportunity to develop effective working relationships with prison regional groups.

We are therefore looking for a manager with excellent oral and written communication skills, strong integrity, the ability to make sound evidence-based judgements about operational delivery and produce high quality reports.

They will need to be able to work collaboratively with a wide range of people but stand their ground when necessary. They will need to be able to work well as a member of a team and be able to lead assurance teams. A flexible and can-do approach is required as well as the ability to overcome obstacles to deliver high quality work that can withstand challenge and often under time pressures. Knowledge and/or experience of the delivery of offender services in custody would be desirable.

The essential criteria:

  • Experienced effective and inclusive leader and team player
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Strong integrity
  • Ability to make sound evidence-based judgements about operational delivery
  • Collaborative approach working with a wide range of people but able to stand ground when necessary

The desirable criteria:

  • Knowledge and/or experience of the delivery of offender services in custody


We will assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Changing and Improving
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Working Together

Technical Skills

We will assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • Written and oral communication skills including report writing and giving feedback to senior managers on organisational performance
  • Influencing and negotiating skills including with stakeholders at management level in a complex and multi layered delivery landscape
  • Analytical skills and experience in analysing findings from inspections and assurance activity
  • Using Microsoft packages especially Word and Excel

This campaign is for 1 medium term post for up to 6 months which may be extended

Working Arrangements & Further Information

For nationally advertised campaigns, candidates will be appointed to their nearest Justice Collaboration Centre or Justice Satellite Office. This will be discussed and agreed with the successful candidate(s) on the completion of pre-employment checks.

Some of MoJ’s, including HMPPS, terms and conditions of service are changing as part of Civil Service reform. The changes will apply to staff joining MoJ who are new to the Civil Service. Staff joining MoJ from other civil service employers will transfer onto the new MoJ terms if they are already on ‘modernised’ terms in their current post or onto ‘unmodernised’ MoJ terms if they are on ‘unmodernised’ terms at their current post. Details will be available if an offer is made.

Standard working hours for this post are 37 hours per week excluding breaks which are unpaid.

If you are a current NPS employee, this vacancy may be available on a Loan basis for up to 2 years. Applications are invited from suitable qualified staff.

The Loan/Secondment is subject to the approval of the selected candidate’s Business Unit, which should be obtained before confirmation of appointment.


Annual Leave

-The holiday year runs from 1 March. If you work a non standard work pattern your leave entitlement may be expressed in either hours or days as appropriate. Leave entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis and you will be advised of your actual entitlement on appointment. If you were appointed internally and your leave was previously calculated in days, this will continue to be the case.

Bank, Public and Privilege Holidays

You are entitled to 9 days (66 hours 36 minutes) in recognition of bank, public and privilege holidays. These hours are added to your annual leave allowance. There is a requirement to work some public and bank holidays subject to your shift pattern and the operational needs of the establishment


-The Civil Service offers a choice of two pension schemes, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best.

Work Life Balance

-HM Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) is keen to encourage alternative working arrangements. Work life balance provides greater opportunities for staff to work more flexibly wherever managers and establishments can accommodate requests to do so. HMPPS offers flexible working subject to completion of a satisfactory probationary period and NVQ

Season Ticket Advance

-After two months’ service, you’ll be eligible to apply for a season ticket advance to purchase a quarterly or longer-period season ticket for travel between home and your place of work

Childcare Vouchers

For any moves across the Civil Service may have implications on your ability to carry on claiming childcare vouchers


-HMPPS is committed to staff development and offers a range of training and development opportunities, including areas such as Equality and Diversity, Dealing with Challenging Behaviour, Suicide Prevention and Anti Bullying Programmes

-There are opportunities to access promotion programmes and HMPPS provide a variety of training appropriate to individual posts

-All staff receive security and diversity training and an individual induction programme into their new roles


-All candidates are subject to security and identity checks prior to taking up post

-All external candidates are subject to 6 months probation. Internal candidates are subject to probation if they have not already served a probationary period within HMPPS

-All staff are required to declare whether they are a member of a group or organisation which HMPPS considers to be racist


  • A range of ‘Family Friendly’ policies such as opportunities to work reduced hours or job share.
  • Access to flexible benefits such as voluntary benefits, retail vouchers and discounts on a range of goods and services.
  • For moves to or from another employer or moves across the Civil Service this can have implications on your eligibility to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for alternative government childcare support schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. More information can be found on GOV.UK or Childcare Choices. You can determine your eligibility at
  • Paid paternity, adoption and maternity leave.
  • Free annual sight tests for employees who use computer screens.

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. Should you feel that the recruitment process has breached the recruitment principles you are able to raise a formal complaint in the following order

1- To Shared Service Connected Ltd (0845 241 5358 (Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm) or e mail;

2- To Ministry of Justice Resourcing (;

3- To the Civil Service Commission (details available here)

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As a Disability Confident employer, MoJ are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities, by making adjustments throughout all elements of the recruitment process and in the workplace. MoJ are able to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns.

You will be able to request reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process within the application form. If you need additional help completing the application form, please contact the SSCL Recruitment Enquiries Team.