Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) responsible for the correctional services in England and Wales. It was created in 2004 as the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) by combining parts of the headquarters of the National Probation Service and Her Majesty’s Prison Service with some existing Home Office functions. In 2017, some of the agency's functions were transferred to the Ministry of Justice and it received its current name.
As part of the merger it was identified that there were skills shortages in the Operational Support Grade posts. These grades are responsible for meeting and greeting external customers, including prisoners’ families, solicitors and other external stakeholders. There was no formal customer service training and development in place and feedback from Governors was that the customer journey needed to be improved.
With a lack of internal resource to improve the situation, and an existing relationship with Knowledgepool, the MoJ reached out to Knowledgepool team to see how we could best support them in achieving their vision.
The Knowledgepool team met with senior leaders at the MoJ and discussed how we could change the behaviour and culture within prisons around customer management. Having gained a full understanding of their requirements, the team identified that the recruitment of Operational Support Grades would best be carried out using the Customer Service Level 2 apprenticeship programme. Addressing the skills, knowledge and behaviours required when interacting with customers and providing high quality customer service, the programme also serves as a pathway into the MoJ, allowing for further progression.
During the discussions, a requirement for additional learning around security and dealing with conflict and aggression was identified. To support in designing and delivering this, a member of the Knowledgepool curriculum team visited a prison in order to really understand the day-to-day activities and challenges that Operational Support Grades encounter. This enabled us to tailor two bespoke programmes covering specific skills and behaviours, further enhancing the learner experience, and the relevance of the apprenticeship.
We are currently onboarding 600 Operational Support Grade Customer Service apprentices in prisons across the UK, with the objective to improve the level of customer service, reduce complaints and make prisons a less daunting place to go.
Following the successful rollout of the programme, the MoJ will then look to adopt this model for future recruits and look to offer to existing employees.