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Prison Catering

Inspire and Rehabilitate

Join the Prison Service Catering Team

Working as part of the catering team in the prison service will offer you flexibility, a good salary and pension and Civil Service benefits. Join a professional environment where you have the opportunity to mentor and oversee the work of offenders, helping them to learn new skills.

It is a great chance to put your catering skills into practice, working with the team to prepare meals for the entire prison. The quality of food has a real impact on prison morale and you will use your skills to create quality, nutritional meals every day. By managing offenders who are keen to learn a skill, you will have an impact far beyond the kitchen by helping them earn a qualification for future employment.

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Things you need to know

Caterer/Chef – Band 3

As a prison caterer/chef, you will work with offenders to prepare, cook and serve food under the supervision of a chef/kitchen supervisor. You will also help to select and train offenders for kitchen duties. Your responsibilities can involve keeping training records up to date, monitoring work, and helping to maintain safety and security of the prison.

Responsibilities include:

  • preparing and cooking food using ingredients with minimal waste
  • supporting offenders to work safely and efficiently
  • co-ordinating supplies of food and ingredients
  • catering for diets on grounds of religious beliefs and medical issues
  • serving food from the kitchen or hotplate, and deliver food by trolley
  • checking hygiene and contribute to the review of catering standards.

What it’s like working as a prison caterer

“One of the things that appealed to me was knowing it was a long-term career opportunity, not just a job – which you don’t often get working in catering.” Read our blog post to see what else Dave likes about his job as a prison caterer.

Chef/Kitchen Supervisor – Band 4

As a prison chef/kitchen supervisor you will supervise and support the work of the prison caterers/chefs with offenders to prepare, cook and serve food. You will also contribute to the development of local practice, process and initiatives, and carry out offender interviews and inductions.

Responsibilities include:

  • allocating daily staff resources to activities
  • creating menus, incorporating any special requirements and provide meal descriptions for offenders
  • checking receipt of deliveries, stores and stock control
  • visiting residential areas to check on hygiene standards and food serving activity – offer guidance, carry out checks and support wing staff and servery workers
  • providing food safety, health and hygiene training
  • reporting equipment breakdown and recording maintenance requirements
  • assisting the catering manager to produce meals for different events
  • carrying out offender interviews and inductions, and supervising offenders within the area of work
  • ensuring offender security is maintained including conducting offender rub down and pat down searches in accordance with policy
  • maintaining the discipline of offenders working within the work area. This includes issuing of behaviour warnings, governor reports and minor reports.

Important to note:

If you are applying for the catering and hospitality role, your duties will also include:

  • delivering training to offenders in hospitality and catering to cover both the establishment’s needs and offenders’ aspirations to work towards gaining industry recognised accreditations
  • participating in the selection process of offenders for the area of work and undertaking offender learning need assessments
  • inducting offenders to the area of work and train them in aspects such as health and safety, Control of Substance Hazardous to Health (COSHH), machinery and tools usage
  • maintaining and updating learner records including individual learning plans
  • assessing and evaluating the skills of offenders including National Vocational Qualification levels 1 and 2 and other relevant industry recognised qualifications
  • undertaking the registration, supervision, monitoring, assessment and accreditation of learners in accordance with awarding body requirement
  • maintaining awarding body quality standards and contributing towards internal and external verification as required
  • setting learning aims and learning goals, reviewing and providing feedback on offender progress
  • providing support and advice on career opportunities for hospitality and catering.

A prison caterer during a stock check

“Hopefully every day we make a small difference to offender's lives, giving them the skills and mentality to go out and find a job.” Chris Prison Caterer

You will work a 37 hour week. Pay depends on where you work in England and Wales. Shift patterns are in place which will include:

  • hours outside of 07:00 -19:00 Monday to Friday
  • weekends
  • bank holidays.

You will therefore receive a 17% unsocial hours payment in addition to your basic pay, subject to working these hours. All roles can be open to part-time and job share arrangements subject to the business need/operational requirement, however you will still be required to undertake the full range of shifts. New recruits joining HMPPS will be brought in on the minimum of the band pay range.

Region Prisons Band 3 Salary Minimum inclusive of 17% unsocial hours allowance Band 3 Salary Maximum inclusive of 17% unsocial hours allowance Band 4 Salary Minimum inclusive of 17% unsocial hours allowance Band 4 Salary Maximum inclusive of 17% unsocial hours allowance
Inner London Brixton, Pentonville, Wandsworth, Wormwood Scrubs £27,518 £30,550 £33,171 £36,889
Outer London Belmarsh, Downview, Feltham, High Down, Isis £26,018 £28,886 £31,674 £35,225
National All other Prisons £23,144 £25,697 £28,804 £32,036

A small number of posts will not require shift pattern working. In these cases, the 17% unsocial hours payment will not be made. Please see job advert for full details.


As part of the Civil Service Pension Scheme, you will receive up to 20% of your salary when you retire.

Annual leave:

You will receive 25 days paid annual leave, rising to 30 days after 10 years of service.


You will be entitled to Civil Service benefits including:

  • access to our cycle to work scheme
  • travel loans
  • access to apprenticeship qualifications as part of your personal development.


We welcome and encourage applications from everyone, regardless of their background. We strive for a workforce that is representative of our society and pride ourselves as being an employer of choice.

Find out more about how we champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

To work in prison catering you need to:

  • be at least 18 years old at the time of employment
  • have the right to work in the UK
  • speak fluent English or Welsh if specified.

Band 3 – Essential qualifications:

  • level 2 certificate in food production within hospitality and catering or equivalent
  • food hygiene certificate at Level 2
  • Vocational Qualification at Level 3 or be willing to work towards gaining this qualification within an agreed timescale.

In addition, you must be:

  • familiar with all current health, safety and hygiene related regulations for working in a kitchen
  • able to demonstrate competency within an industrial kitchen environment.

Please note refresher training in food safety (HACCP) should be completed at three year intervals.

Band 4 – Essential qualifications:

  • level 2 certificate in food production within hospitality and catering or equivalent
  • food hygiene certificate level 3 (intermediate level)
  • working towards a relevant Vocational Qualification at Level 3 or already hold formal qualifications in catering e.g. City and Guilds 7061/7062 or NVQ Level 3.

In addition, you must be:

  • familiar with all current health, safety and hygiene related regulations for working in a kitchen environment.

Please note refresher training in food safety (HACCP) should be completed at three year intervals.

You will need to provide a CV and a number of short written statements in your application. You will be required to provide your CV in an anonymised format known as “name blind” which will help us recruit based on your knowledge and your skills rather than your background, gender or ethnicity. This is to ensure the process is fair and irrelevant information is not taken into account during the selection process. Make sure your CV includes details of any relevant qualifications and experience.

You will need to answer questions which outline your past experience. You’ll need to tell us about your previous catering roles or, if a recent college leaver, your college experience.

You will also need to answer specific ‘behavioural’ questions. We will ask you how you would react in a specific situation, and want to know what you have done (or what you would do) to be effective in your job. Remember to be specific in your answer to address the questions that are asked. Don’t assume the recruitment manager will understand the situation you were facing.

“Food is incredibly important in a place where people's movement is restricted. It really affects morale. I want to make sure that every meal is the best it can possibly be and that the boys enjoy the food here.” Andy Catering Manager

Are you an armed forces veteran looking for a new challenge?

The Making the Civil Service a Great Place to work for veterans initiative includes a guaranteed interview scheme to those who meet the minimum criteria to provide eligible former members of the Armed Forces with opportunities to secure rewarding jobs. Allowing Veterans to continue to serve their country, and to bring highly skilled individuals with a broad range of experience into the Civil Service in an environment, which recognises and values your previous service in the Armed Forces.

People Stories

Our prison catering roles provide rewarding work, helping to give offenders new skills and a chance to turn their life around. Hear from our staff themselves on what the role’s really like.

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If you want to start your career with meaning, click the button below to start the recruitment process.

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