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Senior Policy Advisors

Category : Government
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Location : Leeds , London
Salary : £ 30,989 - £ 47,591
Type : Permanent
Closing Date : 2020-07-14
Date Posted : 2020-07-05
Reference : 35319  

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

About the posts

The Prison Policy Directorate sits within the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for advising Ministers on all aspects of prison policy. The Prison Safety, Security and Operational Policy (SSOP) division is a key part of the Directorate and has responsibility for one of the most important social policy issues in Government – setting the policy framework for how the prison system works and ensuring that the safety and security of both staff and prisoners is upheld. We work hand in hand in everything we do with one of the biggest delivery organisations in government. The SSOP division is split into key for teams:

  • Prison Security: ensuring that we are tackling threats to prison security including drugs, organised crime, conveyance and working with intelligence across government to anticipate and counteract emerging threats;
  • Prison Safety: focussing on improving safety outcomes for staff and prisoners including reducing self-inflicted deaths, self-harm and violence in prisons;
  • Prison Regime: providing policy advice to define what a good prison system should look like and unpicking the blockers and enablers to achieving this; and
  • Operational Policy: owning a range of high profile policy areas that underpin a safe, decent and lawful prison system such as prisoner incentives and adjudications.

We have a number of posts across these teams and are looking for driven, talented and forward-thinking Band B/SEOs to join us.

The roles will provide excellent opportunities to work in a fast-paced policy environment and collaborate with colleagues in HMPPS, across other government departments including the Department for Health and Social Care and the Home Office, as well as with external stakeholders.

We are a friendly, enthusiastic and collaborative division 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. We welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including groups underrepresented in our workforce and pride ourselves as being an employer of choice. We know that diverse perspectives and experiences are critical to ensure we are providing the best policy advice. 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 successful candidates will be expected to:

-          Have the ability to understand complex policy areas quickly.

-          Work flexibly and independently, effectively leading their own areas of work. 

-          Develop and build strong partnership working with colleagues in HMPPS and MoJ, as well as external stakeholders. 

-          Collect a wide range of sources of data and evidence to inform policy development. 

-          Analyse, interpret and present evidence to form sound policy options for wider discussion.

-          Effectively organise and prioritise their own policy development work e.g. agree aims, scope, plan and deliver key strands of work and activities. 

-          Provide high-quality briefing to senior officials and Ministers, showing excellent oral and written communication skills. 

-          Have the ability to work under pressure to tight deadlines. 

We are looking to fill roles in the following teams:

  • The Prison Safety Team. The post holders will have responsibility for developing and supporting prisons to embed a range of policy and approaches to help improve prison safety outcomes, including: shaping and supporting the development of the team’s work on recovery and the planning as we work through the implications of Covid-19 and its impact on prison safety; supporting the development of the future of the prison safety programme; and supporting or leading on aspects of the safety team’s cross-cutting work, for example, developing/inputting into spending review bids.
  • The Operational Policy Team. This team has responsibility for approximately 19 wide-ranging operational policies which ensure a safe, decent and lawful prison system for prisoners and prison staff. Policies owned by the team include: Incentives; Prisoner Discipline Procedures (Adjudications); Early Days in Custody; Discharge; Prisoner Communications; and Visits. The post holders will be responsible for planning and managing the development and implementation of a group of policies, for which they will be the subject matter expert. The post holders will also provide guidance and support to policy owners (across MoJ and HMPPS) to support the development of fit for purpose operational policies.
  • The Prison Regime Policy Team. This recently formed team is looking at the prison regime, which is central to the running of a prison and is an area of ministerial interest. The post holder will take ownership of policy work strands, thinking strategically and using a broad range of domestic and international evidence to define what a good prison regime looks like and recommending reform to the regime to ensure that it supports the Department’s aims of helping prisoners to turn their lives around. Collaboration across operational, analytical and strategy colleagues will be vital ensuring that as well as owning specific areas of work, that we influence relevant policy areas. This policy work will be expected to inform the department’s spending review bids.
  • The Prison Security Policy Team. As a member of this team, the post holder will work on a range of strategies and policies to prevent activities, often criminal acts, that undermine safety and rehabilitation in prisons. Strategies and policies can include: stopping contraband such as drugs entering prisons; disrupting illicit communications and abuse of legitimate means of communication; identifying and disrupting criminal networks; and building staff resilience to corruption.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Collect, analyse, interpret and present evidence to form sound policy proposals and approaches and to identify which activities are likely to have an impact.
  • Develop and build strong partnership working with colleagues in both MoJ and HMPPS, both in the centre and operationally to better understand how our policies and approaches will work at an operational and practical level.
  • Establish and develop strong working relationships with agencies across the criminal justice system to influence and deliver policies and improvements.
  • Drive forward and take ownership of the development and delivery of key strands of work and activities.
  • Actively contribute to higher level decision making for business planning, policy and project implementation to progress strategic objectives.
  • Identify relevant linkages across the department to ensure a joined-up approach.
  • Respond flexibly to competing and complex demands.
  • These posts may involve some line management responsibilities.

Skills and Qualifications

Essential skills:

  • Experience of working in a policy environment with strong policy development skills.
  • Demonstrate confidence and skill to act independently and quickly get to grips with a complex area in order to drive forward work, whilst ensuring colleagues and stakeholders are engaged as appropriate.
  • Strong organisational skills and the ability to plan and deliver outcomes according to agreed priorities.
  • Strong communication skills, including experience of drafting policy, parliamentary correspondence, ministerial briefings and / or similar written products.
  • Ability to make sound judgments and provide well-articulated advice, with experience in using and interpreting data and evidence.
  • Experience of consulting and collaborating with colleagues and stakeholders from a range of organisations to achieve tangible outcomes.

Further to this it would be desirable for the post holder to:

  • An interest in, or knowledge of, prisons or probation
  • Operational experience in the justice system
  • Have an understanding of the governmental and parliamentary processes
  • Experience with using project management approaches.
  • Experience of line management of staff and/or matrix management to achieve timely delivery.

Candidate requirements

This recruitment is using Success Profiles: we will assess your Behaviours as part of your application and interview, and Strengths will be assessed at interview. Further information about Success Profiles is available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/success-profiles.

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 should be able to carefully consider alternative options, implications and risks of decisions.

  • 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 that 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.


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

Gerry Franks (Gerry.franks@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, agreement with his/her 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.

If you have a preference to work on a particular team, this should be highlighted on your application.

Selection Process: application form, CV and interview

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

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