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Forensic Psychology

About HM Prison & Probation Service

To make a positive contribution, find the real story inside.

We’re the biggest single employer of psychologists in the country. That means we have far more career routes and broader options than most other organisations. Whatever their role, our psychologists take huge pride in what they do and aim to make custody a safer, rehabilitative experience.
They do that by getting beneath the surface of people’s behaviour. Because the closer they come to understanding the people they work with, the better they can make the service for the people in our care, and for colleagues across the organisation.

Things you need to know

Our psychologists work in headquarters, prisons, and community (probation) settings. They also work in functional or geographically-based teams.

Wherever you work, you’ll work closely with other staff groups and senior managers. You’ll help contribute to the organisational goals or prison establishment’s aims, and come up with psychologically-informed solutions to support progressive cultures, environments and prison regimes.

Of course, you’ll also work with individuals to assess their risk of reoffending and look for ways to progress them.

Geographical teams

The majority of the male prison estate is organised into geographical teams. You will work across a range of prisons which provide an unparalleled breadth of experience, environment and challenge. You’ll be assessing high-risk, complex and diverse cases, undertaking intervention work, consultancy, and research.

You’ll also support incident management, provide evidence to the Parole Board and other stakeholders, and take part in training and development. Once you’re registered with the HCPC, you’ll be supporting and later supervising and managing trainee psychologists. Throughout all this, you’ll be working alongside other staff groups throughout the prison estate.

In some sites, we work on individual units, so it’s possible to find a more site-specific role within geographical teams if you prefer. For example, you could join the team in one of our Psychologically-Informed Planned Environments (PIPEs) which operate within the Offender Personality Disorder pathway. They are your chance to create a psychologically-informed, safe and supportive environment which encourages the development of people in the units’ care or in one of our Therapeutic Communities.

We have strong links with academic institutions and colleagues across a range of other settings.

We are the biggest single employer of
psychologists in the country, so whichever location, client group or specialism you might work with, we are likely to be able to accommodate you.

Wales

Wales has its own Forensic Psychological Services (FPS) which works across custody and community as part of HMPPS in Wales.

As a forensic psychologist in Wales, your scope will be broad. For example, you’ll be working with a range of stakeholders or partners such as the police, Youth Justice Board and courts.

National Probation Service – UK-wide

Some of our psychologists opt to provide consultancy and support to colleagues within the community. They offer expert advice, services and assistance across the country.

Headquarters – London

Here, our psychologists work on a range of areas including the design of accredited interventions. They support what we do through evidence-based practice, learning and development, and specialisms such as organisational design, staff recruitment and staff selection.

Functional teams

In England, we have three main functional teams in custody:

  • young people
  • high security
  • women

Young people

(Males aged 15-18)

  • HMYOI Werrington (Midlands)
  • HMYOI Feltham (West London)
  • HMYOI Wetherby (Yorkshire)
  • HMYOI Cookham Wood (Kent)

Custody is considered a last resort for young people. Our sites for young people hold those who have carried out the most serious offending and present the most complex issues – which often manifest as difficult and challenging behaviour.

Given the age and inherent vulnerabilities of the population, our psychologists play a key role in meeting our moral and legal duties around safeguarding and public protection, and in reducing reoffending as part of rehabilitation.

Women

This growing national team concentrates on the 10 public sector women’s prisons in England and also provides psychological services for two private sector sites.

The needs of women serving custodial sentences are different to those of men. There’s real scope for you to develop and deliver individualised interventions.

You’ll work directly with women with differing complex needs, and provide psychological advice and consultancy to the prison staff who engage with them every day. You’ll also input to the process of managing women with the highest risk of harm towards others, help set the strategic direction for new national initiatives and policies, and carry out research and regime development.

Long term and high security

This newly-formed directorate supports 13 public sector prisons housing the most complex, challenging and high-risk category A and B men in the country. They also support one young offender site in Aylesbury. Here, you’ll be an integral part of prison life. Specifically, you’ll be involved in assessing complex and diverse cases, intervention work, consultancy, research, training and development. Once you’re registered, you will be supervising and managing trainee psychologists. Psychologists in these sites tend to be located in their ‘host’ prison.

There are a number of individual units within LTHSE in addition to PIPEs and Personality Disorder Services

Close supervision centres

These are small, specialist and highly supervised units for the most dangerous and disruptive men in the country. Psychologists here play a vital role in the day-to-day management of the unit by assessing and providing intervention approaches with men within the environment and regime, and developing and supporting staff.

Separation centres

These remove men from the main prison population with an aim to prevent terrorist acts and the dissemination of views or beliefs that might encourage others to commit such acts. As a key member of a multi-disciplinary team, you’ll be involved in assessment, management, intervention planning and staff training and development.

In a forensic psychology job, you will work a 37 hour week. Pay depends on where you work in England and Wales.

£34,212 – £51,753 (depending on location and experience)

  • 25 days of annual holiday (rising to 30 days after 10 years of service)
  • Paid time off for public holidays and 1 extra privilege day
  • Civil Service pension of up to 20% of your salary
  • Childcare vouchers, cycle to work scheme, travel loans and other benefits

After passing your interventions training, you’ll deliver group sessions to prisoners early on in your career. If you enjoy it all and have an aptitude for this type of work, you can apply for promotion into a trainee role or into other non-psychology routes. There is a competence-based application and assessment process. You’ll need 5 GCSEs (Grade A* to C).

Interventions Facilitator (B4)

Many of our psychologists start their career as an Interventions Facilitator. After passing your interventions training, you’ll deliver group sessions to prisoners. If you enjoy it and have an aptitude for this type of work, you can apply for promotion into a trainee role or into other non-psychology routes once eligible. There is a competence-based application and assessment process. You’ll need 5 GCSEs (Grade A* to C) to work as a B4.

Trainee psychologist (B5)

To join us at this grade, you’ll need a psychology qualification conferring Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society, and an accredited MSc in Forensic Psychology. When you apply, you must have passed your MSc and checked it meets BPS accreditation standards to enter into ‘Stage 2’ of your forensic training

We also on occasion seek to employ trainees other than forensic. You will still need GBC, and the relevant Masters qualification to enter the supervised practice stage of your training.

If outside the UK, you need to demonstrate that you are meeting the necessary standards with the BPS.

Qualified Registered Psychologist (B7)

Once you’ve finished your training and have Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration, you’ll be able to take on a role as a registered practitioner psychologist. It’s not essential for you to have chartership at this level.

You’ll focus on delivering services directly to the men, women and young people in our care. You’ll support in-training staff and provide supervision of some of their work, but you won’t be a line manager.

Senior Registered Psychologist (B8)

You should already be operating as an HCPC registered psychologist. Like most people at this level, you’ll have worked as an independent practitioner psychologist and be keen to help manage and develop others and work more strategically across the team. You don’t need chartered status but it’s an advantage in roles that involve supporting others in training on BPS routes.

You may need to have been registered for 2 years to meet BPS RAPPS requirements.

“You feel valued and trusted as a professional, allowing you to be flexible in the way you work.” Emma Forensic Psychologist

What it’s like to work as a psychologist for HMPPS?

Hear from forensic psychologists about the role.

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