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Probation Services Officer

You've got what it takes to give people a fresh start

HM Prison & Probation Service


The National Probation Service works with around 30,000 offenders a year, supporting their rehabilitation while protecting the public. It is not an easy job but it is a rewarding one with variety, training and the chance to turn people’s lives around.

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Things you need to know

Who we are

The National Probation Service (NPS), as part of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) supervises high and medium risk offenders in the community and in custody. We are here to protect the public, support victims and prevent reoffending wherever possible. We believe everyone deserves a second chance, and we help offenders make the most of theirs.

What we do

As well as assessing the risk our service users pose and advising courts to ensure effective sentencing, we work closely with different people and organisations. This includes community rehabilitation companies, job agencies, shelters and a whole range of service providers. Ultimately, our staff are the people who tackle the causes of offending, and rehabilitate offenders into the community safely. Our closest partnership is with offenders, directly managing them in the community, as well as before and after release as they reintegrate into society.

We achieve our best results when we focus on the things that matter: making decisions based on evidence, improving and innovating, and sharpening our own skills and experience. By working fairly and inclusively, supporting our people to make the right decisions, and by taking accountability for our actions, we build trust. And we make a difference that lasts.

The bigger picture

The NPS is part of the Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), and is managed by the Ministry of Justice. They’re responsible for providing a transparent, effective and responsive justice system.

“Several years after I had recalled a young person back to prison he came back with his wife and child and said I had helped him. He thanked me, and said he had changed his life.” Nari Probation Services Officer

About the job

Tackling the root cause of offending is never going to be without its challenges. But helping someone turn their life around is immensely rewarding.

As a probation services officer (PSO), you will undertake the full range of work with offenders before and after sentence, and in the community. This includes:

  • assessment
  • sentencing
  • managing offenders throughout their conviction
  • report-writing.

You will assess and manage the risk posed by offenders to protect victims of crime and the general public.

Day to day, you’ll manage caseloads. You will draw on the training you receive to assess and manage risks to keep the community safe. You’ll provide information to courts and work closely with agencies throughout the justice system carrying out risk management and collaborating with them to protect the public. Most importantly, you’ll do everything you can to support offenders. That might mean providing practical advice about housing and employment, or something as simple as listening and understanding.

Working environments

As a Probation Services Officer you will be assigned to one of the following work environments. Once in post, there may be later opportunities to move into different work environments, depending on caseload and business need.

Probation office

As an offender manager in a probation office, you’ll be working with an offender over a period of time and will need to be able to build a relationship and make recommendations. You will need to support, as well as have tough conversations with the individual.


You’ll need to be able to quickly build a rapport with the service user to understand their circumstances as you may only see the individual a few times. Working in a court, you will need to be a confident presenter as you will have to make recommendations in front of the court.

Approved Premises

An Approved Premise (AP) is a secure home for offenders reintegrating into the community. You will be working with a range of offenders from those who will reside in an AP long term to those who are temporarily being housed there. This role is largely about rehabilitation and providing the tools to reintegrate your service users back into society. Your working hours and travel distance are flexible, and you can confirm these upon application.

When we receive your application, we look for three main things which will contribute to your eligibility:

  • the right to work in the UK
  • minimum C-grade GCSEs or equivalent or relevant work experience including sufficient writing skills
  • experience working with challenging individuals.

We want you, not your qualifications

The role requires certain skills and experience, but for us, your personal qualities are just as important. To help people change, you’ll need to be empathetic, patient and resilient. Perhaps you’ve already worked with people who have social or personal difficulties. Maybe you have worked or volunteered with non-profit organisations to help change lives. Whatever your experience, you’ll have strong writing and communication skills and be confident and competent at producing clear, accurate reports to demanding deadlines. This is something you’ll be tested on as part of the recruitment process.

We’re also looking for people who are enthusiastic and ready to learn. In your first months, you’ll get a lot of training, both formally and on the job. You’ll be supported by your team throughout, and you’ll be there for them in turn. But you’ll go beyond being collaborative: you’ll be flexible too, adapting to changes as they arise and working fast to resolve problems.

Supporting you to grow

We’ll make sure you have the training you need to do your job well, with dedicated learning and development to help you engage with offenders in the best, most effective way. As a probation services officer, you’ll have many opportunities to develop in your role, to make it the first step in a successful career in Probation.

Year one training

  • A comprehensive induction, including the Gateway to Practice training course.
  • Level 3 Vocational Qualification in Probation Practice.
  • Mapped out learning and development.
  • Supervised and assessed practice.

Career development opportunities

  • Study for a relevant Level 4 Qualification.
  • Study for a Level 5 Qualification to get on the path to becoming a probation officer.
  • Certificate in Probation Practice.
  • Secondments across MoJ.
  • Civil Service Fast Stream.
  • Continuous professional development training.

As part of the National Probation Service, you’ll be entitled to a range of Civil Service benefits:

  • an annual salary of £22,261 plus London Weighting Allowance of £3,889, where this applies
  • 25 days’ annual leave, plus eight public holidays and service days, increasing to 30 days after 5 years’ service
  • flexible working
  • immediate access to an occupational pension scheme (Local Government Pension Scheme)
  • other Civil Service benefits.

Regional Divisions

Vacancies are determined by business need and are advertised accordingly. Our regions cover:

  • London
  • Midlands
  • North East
  • North West
  • South East & Eastern
  • South West & South Central
  • Wales.

Please click on the apply button to view jobs in your area.

Details you’ll be asked to provide:

  • personal details including your full name, address, contact numbers and proof of your right to work in the UK
  • details of your educational background, qualifications and any relevant training you have
  • any unpaid or voluntary experience.

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.

Ministry of Justice’s recruitment processes are underpinned by the principle of selection for appointment on merit on the basis of fair and open competition as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles.

If you have an enquiry you can contact the Civil Service Commission via their website.

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Principles and you wish to make a complaint, you should contact Ministry of Justice in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can contact the Civil Service Commission.

Application tips

Applying for any job can be difficult – and it’s easy to overlook certain aspects of what you’re doing. We’ve put together some tips to help you to make the most of the process.

  • Do your research. Find out about the service and familiarise yourself with our work, purpose and structure.
  • Read the job profile. Pay particular attention to the job’s purpose and the skills needed. You’ll need to show how you match what we’re looking for, so be sure that the role fits your abilities.
  • Tailor your answers to meet the particular requirements outlined in the job description, rather than cutting and pasting from another application.
  • Think about how you can demonstrate, from your past experiences, that you have the qualities needed to become a probation services officer – such as overcoming particular problems or meeting certain targets.
  • After you list your formal qualifications and experience, there is space for you to provide details of any other relevant training or experience you have had. Make sure you can explain why these will help you in your role as a probation services officer.
  • Check and check again. Use a spell checker, get a friend to read your application and give yourself time to proof and edit your application. You don’t want to miss out because of a typo, or missing information.

Contact us

For any candidate queries please contact our recruitment centre on 0345 241 5359 (Option 1) or by email to

Nari’s story

I supervise offenders in the community – they may be on licence or on a community order. As a probation services officer in offender management, we deal with the root of the problem to change lives. We address the root problems in order to reduce risk of offending and we protect the victims.

A young person I used to supervise was spending time in the community, then went to prison, then was in the community and then went to prison again, like a revolving door. But a stage came when he re-offended and I recalled him back to prison, and I later met him one night when I was in one of the local hospitals. He came out of one of the booths and he said to me, “You recalled me back to prison, why did you do that?” and I explained that I had to, due to the serious nature of his offence, and that I apologise, but I was only doing my job.

“If you’re looking for a challenge, come to the Probation Service.”

Several years later, he came back to me with his wife and child, and he said that I had helped him. He came and thanked me, and he had changed his life. When I’m having a bad day, that’s the person I remember.

“At the end of the sentence when those areas of their lives have improved, which is shown by how there’s been no further reoffending, then I know that I’ve done my job and I feel absolutely brilliant about it.”

The best part of my role is that every day I help people, and I protect the community. It’s rehabilitating that person who’s walked through the door, knowing that I can help change their life. In return I know that I’m protecting victims and the society, and I know that at the end of their sentence, that person will become a good citizen of my community.

“I wouldn’t be in this job if I didn’t think I could change lives, and that makes me want to get up in the mornings.” Nari Probation Services Officer

People Stories

This job provides in-depth training and opportunities for professional development into other roles, as well as job variety, so every day is different for a probation services officer. Flexible working arrangements are available to those who need it. But while their motivations for joining are diverse, our people have one shared passion: helping people get their lives back on track. Watch and read how they make that happen.

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If you want to start your career with meaning, click the button below to start the recruitment process. Please note that there are limited PSO vacancies available. However, you might be eligible to apply for a Probation Officer role instead.

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