82514 - Assessor - Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

12 Months
Full Time, Part Time, Flexible Working

Overview of role

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Assessor (AO – Band E)

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) is an Arm’s Length Body of the Ministry of Justice and investigates:

  • complaints made by prisoners, young people in detention, offenders under probation supervision and individuals detained under immigration powers 
  • deaths of prisoners, young people in detention, residents in approved premises and individuals detained under immigration powers 
  • deaths of recently released prisoners that occur within 14 days of release from prison (except homicide). 

The Ombudsman receives around 4,000 new complaints a year of which around half are assessed as eligible for investigation.  The assessment of new cases is carried out by Assessors, who are also responsible for preparing cases for investigation.  The target is to complete the assessment of 80% of new cases within ten days of receipt.

The post holder will be part of the Assessment Team and will be line managed by a EO (Band D), Senior Assessment Officer. The team is headed by a SEO (Band B), Head of Assessment Team who is responsible for the strategic management and direction of the team, allocation processes and quality assurance of the complaints received from prisoners, trainees in Secure Training Centres (STCs), immigration detainees and probation supervisees.  The post holder will work in a team with six other Assessors. 

This post offers an exciting opportunity to develop case working skills, make decisions and have first-hand experience of dealing with people in custody and offender supervision.  The post holder will need to have good judgement, an inquiring mind and require a flexible approach.  It will suit individuals that are self-motivated, well-organised and enjoy working within a team and with investigators. 

Previous experience of the Criminal Justice System is not required as training will be given on the job.

The PPO is based at the HM Government hub at 10 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London. Currently, staff are expected to attend the office two days a week (based on full time hours), with the rest of the time spent working at home or in commuter hubs.  However, the Civil Service Heads of Department have recently written to all departments, including the PPO, and confirmed that their expectation is that staff will attend the office for three days a week (based on full time hours).  We expect this to begin at some time in 2024. 

While you will usually have some flexibility to decide which days of the week you work in the office to enable you to manage your office attendance around your personal circumstances, there will be occasions when you will be required to attend the office (for example, team meetings, office or function-wide meetings).

Please note that the PPO are unable to offer home working contracts or allow you to permanently work at any other location, other than 10 South Colonnade, for the required office attendance days. 

If you are successful, you may need to attend the office more frequently in your first six weeks, to undertake key training and induction activity.  

The salary is £27,000 and there will be no opportunity to negotiate this amount. 

Job Description

The post holder will be responsible for the following;

  • Assessing complaints, against agreed criteria, as to whether they are eligible for investigation by the PPO or not.
  • Submitting decisions to senior managers about complaints that are not assessed as being eligible. 
  • Signposting ‘pushback’ cases to the Senior Assessment Officers for consideration.
  • Writing to complainants to clearly set out the assessment decision. 
  • Making relevant and appropriate enquiries with our stakeholders. 
  • Obtaining relevant paperwork from our stakeholders, where necessary. 
  • Managing general correspondence to the PPO, received by post, email or telephone. 
  • Processing cases appropriately and promptly on our case management system. 
  • Maintaining case files, as and when required, and linking correspondence for complaints that have previously been submitted to the PPO.  
  • Reviewing and processing messages left by callers to the PPO’s telephone line. 
  • Helping to promote team and cross-office working and contributing fully to the team and office meetings. 
  • Occasional prison visits to build and maintain relationships with prison, STC or immigration removal staff.

Essential requirements

  • The ability to analyse and make a sound judgement based on multiple and sometimes conflicting evidence. 
  • The ability to draft eligibility letters to complainants so that the message is clear, simple, accurate and well-evidenced, with realistic and meaningful conclusions.
  • The ability to establish good working relationships with stakeholders in order to access information necessary to the assessment process. 

The Application and Interview Process

The PPO is a Disability Confident Committed Employer, and we ensure our recruitment process is inclusive and accessible. Please complete the application information on reasonable adjustments and disabilities if relevant.  Further information on the types of reasonable adjustment that can be provided can be found at https://www.civil-service-careers.gov.uk/reasonable-adjustments/

This is a two-stage process. 

Stage 1:


  • Submit a statement of suitability (250 words) setting out how your skills and experience match the essential requirements for the role as stated above.
  • Provide an example of where you have demonstrated the skills required for the Civil Service Behaviours ‘Making Effective Decisions’ and ‘Delivering at Pace’.

To pass stage 1, a candidate will need to score a minimum of two out of three on their statement of suitability and four out of seven on each of the behaviours.  If we receive a high number of high scoring applications, we reserve the right to increase this minimum benchmark.

Stage 2: 

Those who meet the required level at the application stage will be invited to a short final interview.  During the interview, you will be asked questions about the Civil Service Behaviours ‘Making Effective Decisions’ and ‘Delivering at Pace’, as well as strength-based questions relating to the role.

You will also be required to complete a written test, following your interview, to demonstrate your ability to identify potential complaint issues. 

To be considered appointable, you will need to score a minimum of eight out of 14 for the behaviour questions, a minimum of four out of eight for the strength questions and a minimum of four for the written test.  If we receive a high number of his scoring interviewees, we reserve the right to increase this minimum benchmark. 

Recruitment across the Civil Service changed from July 2019 with the introduction of Success Profiles. Further guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/success-profiles.

Making Effective Decisions

Use guidance, analyse relevant information and ask colleagues for input to support decision making. Identify and deal with any errors or gaps in information before making a decision. Consider the diverse needs of those affected by decisions and how it will impact them. Provide advice and feedback to support others in making accurate decisions. Ask others to clarify decisions when confused and query any issues that arise constructively.

Delivering at Pace

Always work with focus and pace to get the job done on time and to a high standard. Follow the relevant policies, procedures and rules that apply to the job. Use own knowledge and expertise to organise work. Keep focused on delivery and take responsibility for the quality of work produced. Keep a consistent level of personal performance. Keep managers and stakeholders updated on how work is progressing.

When answering questions about the behaviours, you might want to use the STAR approach to help you to present your evidence more successfully.  This approach provides structure and focus to your answers.

The STAR approach stands for:

Situation – briefly describe the context and your role.

Task – the specific challenge, task or job that you faced.

Action – what you did, how and why you did it.

Result – what you achieved through your actions.

You should keep the situation and task parts brief, concentrating on the actions you took and the result. If the result was not entirely successful describe what you learned from this and what you would do differently next time. STAR may help you to cover all the points you need to make.

When using STAR, you should use one specific example per behaviour and you should explain what you did rather than others.

A reserve list may be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made should further vacancies become available.

The job holder must be able to fulfil all spoken aspects of the role with confidence in English or (when specified in Wales) Welsh.

Working Arrangements & Further Information

The MoJ offers Hybrid Working arrangements where business need allows. This is an informal, non-contractual form of flexible working that blends working from your base location, different MoJ sites and / or from home (please be aware that this role can only be worked in the UK and not overseas). Some roles will not be suitable for Hybrid Working. Similarly, Hybrid Working will not suit everyone’s circumstances. Arrangements will be discussed and agreed with the successful candidate(s) and subject to regular review.

For nationally advertised roles, the successful candidate(s) will be appointed to a MoJ office location, which may include their nearest Justice Collaboration Centre or Justice Satellite Office. This will be discussed and agreed on the completion of pre-employment checks.

Some of MoJ’s terms and conditions of service are changing as part of Civil Service reform. The changes will apply to staff joining MoJ who are new to the Civil Service. Staff joining MoJ from other civil service employers will transfer onto the new MoJ terms if they are already on 'modernised' terms in their current post or onto 'unmodernised' MoJ terms if they are on 'unmodernised' terms at their current post. Details will be available if an offer is made.

MoJ candidates who are on a specialist grade, will be able to retain their grade on lateral transfer.

All candidates who are currently in receipt of Mark Time / Pay Protection should ensure they are familiar with the new policy on permanent and temporary promotion which can be found on the employee intranet.

Flexible working hours

The Ministry of Justice offers a flexible working system in many offices.


The MoJ offers a range of benefits:

Annual Leave

Annual leave is 25 days on appointment and will increase to 30 days after five years’ service.

There is also a scheme to allow qualifying staff to buy or sell up to three days leave each year. Additional paid time off for public holidays and 1 privilege day. Leave for part-time and job share posts will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.


The Civil Service offers a choice of pension schemes, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best.


The Ministry of Justice is committed to staff development and offers an extensive range of training and development opportunities.


The opportunity to join employee-run networks that have been established to provide advice and support and to enable the views of employees from minority groups to be expressed direct to senior management. There are currently networks for employees of minority ethnic origin, employees with disabilities, employees with caring responsibilities, women employees, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.


  • A range of ‘Family Friendly’ policies such as opportunities to work reduced hours or job share.
  • Access to flexible benefits such as voluntary benefits, retail vouchers and discounts on a range of goods and services.
  • For moves to or from another employer or moves across the Civil Service this can have implications on your eligibility to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for alternative government childcare support schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. More information can be found on GOV.UK or Childcare Choices. You can determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.
  • Paid paternity, adoption and maternity leave.
  • Free annual sight tests for employees who use computer screens.

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. Should you feel that the recruitment process has breached the recruitment principles you are able to raise a formal complaint in the following order

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As a Disability Confident employer, MoJ are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities, by making adjustments throughout all elements of the recruitment process and in the workplace. MoJ are able to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns.

You will be able to request reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process within the application form. If you need additional help completing the application form, please contact the SSCL Recruitment Enquiries Team.

We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity.

The interviews are currently scheduled to be held in the weeks commencing 29 January and 5 February 2024

05/01/2024, 23:55 hours.

If you require any assistance please call 0345 241 5359 (Monday to Friday 8am - 6pm) or e mail Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com 

Please quote the job reference - 82514.

To apply for roles in MOJ you will need to confirm your employment history for at least 3 years prior to the date of application so that pre-employment checks (BPSS) can be undertaken. If you have spent significant time abroad (a total of 6 months in the past 3 years) you would be required to give a reasonable account of the reasons why. 

For some roles you will be required to successfully complete National Security Vetting at Counter Terrorism (CTC), Security Clearance (SC) or Developed Vetting (DV) level as a condition of appointment. To meet CTC/SC/DV requirements you will normally need to have been resident in the UK for at least 3/5/10 years prior to the date of application (The level of checks that are required are stated in the advert).

If you do not meet the above requirements, you may still be considered if, for example:

  • You've been serving overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of HM Government
  • You were studying abroad
  • You were living overseas with parents

In such cases you will need to be able to provide referee cover for the period(s) of residence overseas. The duration of overseas residence and the country of abode will also be taken into account.

Success Profiles will enable a fairer and more inclusive method of recruitment by enabling us to assess the range of experiences, abilities, strengths, behaviours and technical/professional skills required for different roles. This flexible approach to recruitment focuses more on finding the right candidate for the specific role. To find out more about Success Profiles to support your application please click here for further guidance.

if you feel that your application has not been treated in line with the Civil Service Recruitment Principles, please contact SSCL (Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com) in the first instance

We have provided detail of the assessment stages and areas being assessed to help you prepare for completing your application form, and to advise of what will be assessed following this, if you successfully pass the application stage.

Application form stage assessments

Making Effective Decisions - 250 word limit
Delivering at Pace - 250 word limit
Statement of Suitability - 250 word limit
A sift based on the lead behaviour, Making Effective Decisions, may be held if a large number of applications are received. If a large number of applications remain after the initial sift, your application will be progressed to a full sift, where all behaviours will then be considered.

Interview stage assessments

There is 1 interview stage for this vacancy.
Making Effective Decisions
Delivering at Pace
Technical Skills
Written Test
Strengths may also be assessed at interview but these are not shared in advance.

A Great Place to Work for Veterans

The "Making the Civil Service a Great Place to work for veterans" initiative includes a guaranteed interview scheme to those who meet the minimum criteria to provide eligible former members of the Armed Forces with opportunities to secure rewarding jobs. Allowing veterans to continue to serve their country, and to bring highly skilled individuals with a broad range of experience into the Civil Service in an environment, which recognises and values your previous service in the Armed Forces.
For further details about the initiative and eligibility requirements visit : https://www.gov.uk/government/news/making-the-civil-service-a-great-place-to-work-for-veterans

Redeployment Interview Scheme

Civil Service departments are expected to explore redeployment opportunities before making an individual redundant. The MoJ are committed, as part of the Redeployment Interview Scheme, to providing opportunities to those who are 'at risk of redundancy'.

MoJ are able to offer an interview to eligible candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns. Candidate's will not be eligible for the Redeployment Interview Scheme if they are applying on promotion.

The Civil Service welcomes applications from people who have recently left prison or have an unspent conviction. Read more about prison leaver recruitment.

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

· UK nationals

· nationals of the Republic of Ireland

· nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK

· nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window) https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families

· nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

· individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020

· Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service

Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nationality-rules

This Vacancy is closed to applications.