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Newly recruited Prison Officers have started their training at Leeds Trinity University, as the Unlocked Graduates programme expands further into Yorkshire.

Side view of students in lecture theatre with face masks on, Leeds Trinity Vice Chancellor Charles Egbu sits in the foreground.

Participants from the 2021 cohort of the Unlocked Graduates programme at Leeds Trinity University have started a two-year leadership scheme for Prison Officers.

Nearly 3,000 applications were made for the 115 places on this year’s programme. The new recruits will work full-time in 29 prisons across the country and study part-time for a Masters degree in Applied Custodial Leadership with the University. 

The course starts with an intensive six week training programme, taking place at Leeds Trinity’s campus in Horsforth, during which the participants will be trained on site and spend some time in prisons across the country, where they will be taking up their posts as Prison Officers if successful.

This year, the Unlocked programme is expanding further North into HMP Leeds, a Category B prison in the Armley area of the city, and HMP Wealstun, a Category C prison near Wetherby in Yorkshire.

Leeds Trinity University has also developed its on-campus facilities in the past year to support the programme. This includes the establishment of two permanent cell doors on campus enabling participants to practise cell locking ahead of their front-line roles, in addition to cell searching and wider training. Measures remain in place to ensure the health and safety of participants, trainers and staff on the campus including social distancing in classrooms, face coverings worn when not able to social distance and twice-weekly mandatory testing.

Dr Danielle McDermott, Academic Lead for Partnership at Leeds Trinity University and Senior Professional Practice Fellow, said: “We are delighted to welcome our second cohort of Unlocked Graduates to Leeds Trinity to study for their Masters degree in Applied Custodial Leadership. Over the past year, it has been brilliant to see the progress participants are making as they bring new ideas to lead positive change and reform the prison system, and we know this will continue with the new recruits in 2021.

“As a University, we are proud to offer a practical and innovative approach to teaching and are thrilled to work together in partnership with Unlocked to deliver this much needed programme.”

Natasha Porter, CEO and founder of Unlocked Graduates, said: “The prison officer role hasn’t traditionally appealed to the top graduates before, so it’s fantastic to see so many talented people recognise that this is an amazing opportunity to help reduce reoffending rates, and apply their undoubted talent to a hugely challenging and important public service. In these difficult times people are joining Unlocked because they want to make a difference, to do something meaningful and positive, and we are so pleased to welcome them on board.

“It’s fantastic to see there’s been such interest in Unlocked Graduates this year and I’m delighted to be back at Leeds Trinity University for our intensive training.  Making this happen during a global pandemic has been a huge challenge and we are very grateful to have such a supportive partner organisation. One that really understands the importance of what we are trying to achieve.”

Unlocked is an award-winning two-year leadership programme specifically aimed at encouraging the brightest and the best graduates and career changers to become Prison Officers. The programme is aimed at raising the status of the profession by attracting a different kind of leader to work in prisons and help identify ways to reform the prison system, reduce reoffending and improve rehabilitation.

Over the course of the two years, participants receive a range of training and support that encompasses all the mandatory Prison Officer training as well as undertaking a fully-funded Masters at Leeds Trinity that will equip them with the theoretical knowledge to embark on their career as prison officers and leaders.

Visit the Unlocked Graduates website for more information.

Categories: Criminology, Sociology and Policing, Employability

For the media

Leeds Trinity University's Senior Corporate Communications Officer, Lucy Chaplin, is the first point of contact for local, national and international media.

Looking to source a comment or would like to arrange an interview with one of our academic experts? Contact Lucy on +44 (0) 113 283 7156 or l.chaplin@leedstrinity.ac.uk