Test for prison officers criticised

A test for prospective prison officers has been criticised for targeting people “with the arithmetical skills of a seven-year old”.

The self-assessment test, a shortened version of the main test designed to measure the skills a prison officer would use on the job, has been published on the Prison Service website.

The questions include basic multiplication and division exercises.

One asks prospective candidates to divide the amount of fish fingers on five trays each containing 24 fish fingers between 40 prisoners, while another asks how much a prisoner would earn over seven days at a rate of 80 pence a day.

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, described the test as “extraordinary”.

She said: “The Prison Service are looking for grown men and women who have the arithmetical skills of a seven-year-old but doesn’t care if they have no values, interest in the issues or concern for human beings.”

Currently, prospective prison officers do not need formal qualifications in English or maths.

In a recent letter to the deputy governor of Feltham Young Offender Institution, the Feltham branch of the Prison Officer’s Association raised concerns over a “drop in standards” in prison officer recruitment from previous entry requirements of five O levels and IQ tests.

It claimed that an “increasing number of inexperienced or incompetent staff” were having a “disastrous” effect on the Prison Service.


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