Bold new TV advert lifts the lid on real and ‘extraordinary’ work of prison and probation officers

The Ministry of Justice has launched a major new advertising campaign to tackle recruitment and retention, by showing the reality of life as prison and probation officers

  • Ministry of Justice launches first ever national TV and radio campaign in major new drive to recruit prison and probation officers
  • Bold new approach will stop ‘sugar coating’ roles, tackle misconceptions and lifts lid on the extraordinary work carried out by those on the frontline
  • The “An extraordinary job. Done by someone like you” advert follows success of similar advertising campaigns for the armed forces


Research commissioned by the Ministry of Justice shows that 47% of the public don’t know much, if anything, about what the prison service does.* Many who do join the service will ultimately leave due to having misunderstood what the role involves.

Recruiting the right people has been a challenge in the past and there is an internal level of cynicism over the ‘sugar-coating’ and aspirational language of recruitment into prison and probation jobs. For example, the idea that staff can ‘change lives’ has been jarring to some existing staff who find it to be inauthentic and the idea of making a difference in small, every day ways was highlighted as more of a motivating factor.

Using this feedback, the new advert from the Ministry of Justice is a departure from what’s gone before and aims to tell the human stories of prisoners and staff through scenes depicting the reality of working in these extraordinary roles.

Prisons Minister Damian Hinds says:

"From helping to improve the literacy skills of prisoners to supporting the rehabilitation of some of the hardest-to-reach members of society, our prison and probation staff do extraordinary work every single day. Much of this takes place behind prison walls and therefore goes unnoticed.

"This ambitious campaign aims – for the first time - to accurately portray the realities of working on the prison landings and shine a light on the people who do these challenging, but invaluable roles."

The campaign – which has launched on TV and radio across parts of England and Wales where the recruitment challenge is greatest – features voices from serving prison officers and aims to challenge some of the misconceptions associated with working on the prison wings, and in the probation office.

There has been a substantial increase of over 700 prison officers in the 12 months ending 30 June 2023. This means we now have an extra 4,000 prison officers than in March 2017.

The Ministry of Justice aims to hire 5,000 prison officers across public and private prisons by the mid-2020s so the system has the capacity and people it needs to rehabilitate prisoners and protect the public.

Sarah Berry, 43, joined HMP Berwyn as a prison officer and is now a Custodial Manager. She took part in filming for the advert and says:

"I’m really happy to see a more authentic advert for prison officer recruitment at last. It’s important that new recruits know that working in a prison is noisy and busy and at times it can be very hard, both emotionally and physically.

"We do experience conflict on a daily basis, but you really can make a difference to prisoners. By winning their trust and respect you help them develop trust and respect for each other too, most importantly reducing their likelihood of reoffending - and that makes it all worth it.

"I joined the prison service in 2016 after working as a secondary school teacher for 10 years. I didn’t want a 9 to 5 office job where every day is the same as it filled me with dread. I wanted something different as I get bored easily in office jobs. I like to make a difference.

"I wanted to be part of the advert so I could help bring the next generation of prison officers through the door."

The “An extraordinary job. Done by someone like you” adverts will run on catch-up TV, digital audio and social media throughout the autumn.

New prison officer recruits start on a salary of over £30,000 and full training will be given. To find out more about the MOJ’s new brand campaign and recruitment drive visit the Prison and probation jobs website.

Ministry of Justice
HM Prison and Probation Service
The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP