Test for officers ignores caring skills

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

The self-assessment test measures the skills a prison officer would use on the job and was published on the prison service website last week.

The questions include basic mathematical exercises such as asking candidates to divide equally fish fingers on five trays, each containing 24, among 40 prisoners.

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The prison service is looking for 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.”

The online test is a shortened version of the main one used by the prison service. Prison officers do not need formal qualifications in English or maths.

Test at www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/careersandjobs/post

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