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Policy Adviser

Category : Government
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Location : Leeds , London
Salary : £ 30,989 - £ 47,591
Type : Permanent
Closing Date : 2020-07-07
Date Posted : 2020-06-28
Reference : 35226  

We welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including groups currently underrepresented in our workforce and pride ourselves as being an employer of choice. To find out more about how we champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity


The Prison Policy Directorate sits within the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for advising ministers on all aspects of prison policy. Our key priorities include reducing the number of prisoners who reoffend on release from prison, ensuring that prisons are safe and secure, developing a comprehensive strategy for the future of the prison estate, and the recruitment and training of the prison workforce. Other important work includes the scrutiny of prison performance and developing policy that supports the effective management of Foreign National Offenders and other specific cohorts of prisoners.

We are recruiting at least 6 SEO policy advisers to work in the Prisoner Outcomes, Resettlement and Reoffending Division. Reoffending costs society an estimated £18bn annually, and our division is at the heart of the government’s efforts to address this, by supporting offenders to rehabilitate and integrate into society. This not only transforms lives, it also reduces reoffending by breaking the cycle of crime and protects the public by preventing the creation of future victims.

We work to strategically across government to achieve this through our reducing reoffending strategy, and identify and pursue opportunities to improve the social inclusion of people leaving prison. We ensure that prisoners can access a purposeful and rehabilitative regime by improving the quality of prison education and ensuring it meets the varying needs of different cohorts of prisoners, and that they can access employment and accommodation upon release.

We are looking for policy officials who pride themselves on producing high-quality work, who are capable of thinking strategically, presenting ideas clearly, working collaboratively and have an interest in criminal justice issues, to fill the 6 following roles:

Reducing reoffending strategy

The reoffending strategy team focuses on improving the government’s strategic approach to reoffending, working closely with policy leads, operational colleagues, other departments and wider stakeholders to develop a coherent approach. This role would see close involvement in building the strategic case for investment in reoffending and driving progress on this important agenda. This is an exciting, high-profile area with significant ministerial interest. We are looking for a highly competent strategic thinker who is able to take the initiative, work independently and confidently navigate data and evidence.

Identity and support team

This role forms part of a newly-established team within the Prisoner Outcomes, Resettlement and Reoffending division. The team focuses on some of the factors which both facilitate people‚Äôs engagement with rehabilitation during their prison sentence, and equip them for resettlement when it ends. These ‚Äėenablers‚Äô include supporting service users to: foster a positive sense of personal identity; develop their readiness to desist from crime and build a healthy life; and grow the life-skills and confidence to pursue opportunities and overcome setbacks.

The successful candidate will help to develop our understanding and approach to this new policy area, and shape the agenda of the team. We are looking for someone who can take a system-wide view of the challenges and a collaborative approach to addressing them, working with stakeholders including our service users, the third sector and academia. You should be enthusiastic about seeking out and engaging with new ideas, perspectives and methods, and identifying opportunities to better support people during and after their prison sentence.

Prisoner cohorts and outcomes

The prison system contains a range of different cohorts of offenders with hugely varying circumstances and needs, including prisoners with learning difficulties, older prisoners and transgender prisoners. This role will focus on improving our understanding of the needs and characteristics of the various cohorts of prisoners, and using this understanding to ensure the department is best meeting the rehabilitative needs of these offenders, including in the regimes we deliver and in our longer-term strategy for the prison estate.

This will include work on an older prisoners strategy, working with analysts to forecast how prisoner cohorts will change over the next 5-10 years, and developing a vision for how prisons will need to adapt to meet their needs. You should be ambitious about improving outcomes for prisoners, comfortable with using evidence and enjoy thinking strategically.

Accommodation policy

Offender Accommodation policy aims to improve accommodation support for those with a history of offending, including prison leavers. The policy strand works collaboratively with operational colleagues from HMPPS to understand the barriers preventing individuals to securing or maintaining accommodation, as well as working with other departments and wider stakeholders to develop a coherent approach to overcoming those barriers. The role will also be responsible for managing the joint MoJ/MHCLG Offender Accommodation Pilot, which is piloting an innovative approach towards supporting offenders at risk of homelessness, as part of the Governments Rough Sleeping Strategy. We are looking for enthusiastic, strategic thinkers who are proactive in identifying opportunities to work in new ways and enjoy collaborating with others.

Priority policies

Reflecting the fast-paced nature of the team‚Äôs work, this role will work flexibly across the breadth of the division‚Äôs remit ‚Äď covering foreign national offenders, prisoner cohorts, reducing reoffending, prisoner education, employment & financial support and prison leavers ‚Äď on high priority issues. This role will provide a variety of opportunities across the team‚Äôs high-profile and interesting work. You should be able to grasp new issues quickly, be enthusiastic about change and pride yourself on producing high quality work.

Prison Leaver project

The Prison Leavers Project aims to improve the social inclusion of people leaving prison. The project seeks to test innovative approaches to complex, intractable challenges which ‚Äėcut across‚Äô multiple departments. We know that when people leave prison they face a wide range of inclusion challenges, such as securing employment and financial security, obtaining safe and stable accommodation, and building positive relationships with family, friends and the wider community. Given this complexity, and the number of organisations who provide services in these areas, the team is taking a system-wide approach to tackling these challenges. Involving more than 30 organisations from the public and third sector, this role offers the opportunity to work on a cross public-sector initiative, working across organisational boundaries to establish joint ownership of the challenges and solutions. We are looking for enthusiastic, strategic thinkers who are proactive in identifying opportunities to work in new ways and enjoy collaborating with others.

We are a friendly, enthusiastic and collaborative team with a strong emphasis on ensuring team members feel happy, supported and engaged in their work. We are keen to make a difference, working closely with partners and supporting everyone to play their part to improve prisons and the outcomes for prisoners. We have a strong commitment to personal and career development, helping everyone to grow and fulfil their potential.

Essential Skills

Thinking strategically 

We want someone who is willing to work with others to think beyond what already exists. Who will question what we want, objectively consider evidence of what works and can think about what could be, and work through the implications on others and in the long term. 

Stakeholder engagement 

All our work is collaborative and so the skills to work with and encourage input from a wide range of people, each with different styles and approaches, is essential. 

Briefing and communication skills 

Write and quality assure briefing on a range of topics, including tailoring content and style to specific audiences. Draft clear and concise response to Parliamentary Questions and Ministerial correspondence. 

Delivery focus 

A proactive and structured approach is key. We want someone who can agree clear aims and scope out a project, then plan and deliver to key milestones, whilst keeping stakeholders engaged throughout the life of the project.

Candidate requirements 

In your application, you will need to demonstrate how you meet the following Civil Service behaviours: 

  • Seeing the big picture¬†

We want someone with the ability to bring together views and perspectives of a range of partners and stakeholders to gain a wider picture of the landscape surrounding the policy area and an understanding of how their role supports MoJ wider HMG objectives. 

  • Making effective decisions¬†

We are looking for candidates who are able to confidently use evidence and knowledge to support accurate, expert decisions and advice. They will be able to carefully consider alternative options, implications and risks of decisions before reaching an outcome.

  • Working together¬†

We want someone who can establish effective relationships and collaborate with other departments and external stakeholders to support the delivery of cross-departmental objectives. Who will be capable and confident in engaging with senior managers. 

  • Delivering at pace¬†

We want someone who is able to take responsibility for the delegated work areas to deliver the expected outcomes on time and to a high standard; to be able to plan ahead as well as reprioritise at short notice. 

At interview, as well as assessing the above behaviours, we will also ask questions to understand your strengths.  

If a high number of applications are received, we will sift application forms on the ‚Äėseeing the bigger picture‚Äô behaviour.

You can find out more about behaviours and strengths by looking at the Civil Service Success Profiles guidance at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/success-profiles


If you would like further information about the roles, please contact:

Rory McErlean - Rory.McErlean@justice.gov.uk

The successful candidates are expected to be able to take up posts as soon as possible, and, if joining from another Civil Service post, with agreement from your current line management. The posts are available on promotion as well as level transfer.

For those candidates who successfully meet the job criteria but are not assigned to the initial posts, a merit/reserve list will be kept open for 12 months.

Selection Process:   application form, CV and interview

Interviews will be held via Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business or will be held in either London or Leeds and are expected to take place from 27th July.

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