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Future Prison Policy and Joint COVID strategic policy unit

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Location : Leeds , London
Salary : £ 30,989 - £ 47,591
Type : Permanent
Closing Date : 2020-07-10
Date Posted : 2020-06-28
Reference : 35291  

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

Location: London or Leeds, with the option to work remotely for part of the week (note – currently fully remote working as standard until further notice).

Posts offered on full-time, part-time or job-share basis

Number of posts: up to 7


The Prison Policy Directorate 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 and 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.

The Future Prisons Division sits within the directorate and responsible for future workforce and estate strategy, digital, prison officer pay and coordinating the Directorate’s approach to the fiscal events

Joint COVID strategic policy unit has been set up across MoJ and HMPPS to help shape our ongoing response to COVID 19 in custody. This unit sits in both the Prisons Policy Directorate in MoJ and Reducing Reoffending, Partnerships and Accommodation Directorate in HMPPS.

We are looking for talented forward-thinking and adaptable individuals to join the Future Prisons Division and the joint unit. We have a number of specific vacancies, but in all cases there will be opportunities to work across the divisions and directorate.

The roles will provide excellent opportunities to work in a fast-paced policy environment and collaborate with colleagues responsible for delivery in Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

We are a friendly, enthusiastic and collaborative directorate 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.

A brief description of the areas of work where vacancies are held is set out below and we would welcome applications from individuals interested either in a specific role – or to work in the future prison policy team or joint unit more generally. A merit list will be operated and there may be further opportunities.  

Roles/Areas of work descriptions

1. Workforce policy: This role sits within the part of the team responsible for prison officer pay and future workforce strategy. Key areas of work will include:

- working to develop policy on the size and shape of the prison workforce, involving policy work that relates to immediate requirements -especially in a COVID 19 context - but also to develop long term strategy, working closely with the estates team.

- contributing to the development of pay strategy and annual pay round for prison officer pay.

Workforce strategy and prison officer pay are high profile policy area with ministerial and cross government interest, and will require working across the department with finance, operational and HR experts; as well as with other departments with large public-sector workforces; and with the Treasury and No.10.

Post holders in this role are not required to have specific pay or HR expertise, but must be willing and able to quickly understand key strategic drivers and priorities as they relate to the policy area and to build strong working relationships with experts.

The post is expected to include line management of one HEO.

2. SEO Joint COVID strategic policy unit (3 roles) has been set up across MoJ and HMPPS to help shape our ongoing response to COVID 19 in custody.

This multi-disciplinary team is made up of both policy and operational expertise, and provides strategic level advice to senior officials, Ministers, and across Government on immediate challenges in the prison system, as well as longer term contingency planning and preparations.

This fast moving and high profile area of policy works across a range of areas in the MoJ, HMPPS, and across the wider CJS, to ensure delivery the objectives of the National Framework for prisons: preserving life, maintaining the stability, safety and security of the prison estate, and providing sufficient capacity to meet demand from the courts.

3. Prison population taskforce Ensuring we maintain sufficient space in the prison estate is, and will always be, a top priority for the department and Ministers. The Prison Population Taskforce are looking to recruit someone to lead on complex policy and problem solving work that will directly contribute towards this effort. This will be a challenging, high-profile and fast-paced role that will be perfect for someone looking to stretch themselves in a supportive and dynamic team.

The post holder will lead on key pieces of work, working closely with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and operational experts, analysts and financial colleagues to drive forward efforts to increase the supply of prison places in line with increasing demand over the next few years. This will be a fast-paced and high priority role providing you with high level exposure, including contributing directly to the upcoming Spending Review.

You’ll need to be a self-starter, driven by solving problems who is comfortable working with experts and data to make risk-based decisions, whilst being able to bring detailed information together to set the strategic direction and directly influencing decision-makers and Ministers.

4. Long term Estates: The role will involve driving forward work to deliver a comprehensive, long term strategy for the prison estate. The postholder will be responsible for leading on key aspects of the review, including - working with analysts to identify the key issues facing prisons, exploring how other jurisdictions manage and operate prisons, assessing alternative delivery models and developing options for a modern, efficient and sustainable prison estate. As data and evidence will be key to any decision-making, the post will suit those who comfortable evaluating a wide range of information but also those who can think strategically and set direction. The role will provide the opportunity to work with a range of policy, operational and analytical colleagues on high-profile, ministerial priority.

5. Digital: This role will involve considering how we make best use of digital and technology to drive innovation, ensure prisons are safe and secure and deliver a sustainable estate in the future. The postholder will need to develop an understanding of the key policy issues in the prison estate and assess whether digital solutions can help address these. This will involve working closely with a range of stakeholders from operations, policy, strategy and digital teams to build a consensus on the direction of digital and technology in the future prison estate in the short, medium and long-term. Strong policy development skills are essential in order to build a robust case for digital change.

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 ‘seeing the big picture’ 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: Simon Thornhill Simon.thornhill@justice.gov.uk and Alex Dawe Alex.dawe@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 and interview

Interviews will be held in virtually using Microsoft Teams/Skype for Business or, by exception, in London and Leeds and are expected to take place in July and August.

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