Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons

Body: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons
Appointing Department: Ministry of Justice
Sectors: Charity & Public Sector, Prison & Policing
Location: London
Skills required: Communication / Media / Marketing, Transformation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The salary for this post is £135,000 per annum based on a 37-hour working week. Remuneration is taxable and subject to Class 1 National Insurance contributions. The post is pensionable under the Civil Service Pension arrangements.
Time Requirements: This is a full-time role.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    15/06/2020 at 09:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

  • James Bowler Added 20/05/2020

    Panel Chair

    Director General, Policy, Communications and Analysis Group, Ministry of Justice • Departmental Official

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  • Mark Rawlinson Added 20/05/2020

    MoJ Non-Executive Director • Other Panel Member

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  • Wendy Williams Added 20/05/2020

    Her Majesty’s Inspector, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Service • Independent Member

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  • Sir Peter Rubin Added 20/05/2020

    Emeritus Professor, University of Nottingham • Senior Independent Panel Member

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Vacancy Description

The role of the Chief Inspector

Reporting directly to Ministers, the successful candidate will have a proven ability to act with integrity and independence from Government, and deliver the services under the Inspectorate’s scrutiny.

The Inspectorate’s methodology focuses on outcomes for those detained within the custodial estate, and encourages establishments to seek improvement in those outcomes where required. In addition to its annual inspection programme, the Inspectorate has, since 2019, introduced Independent Reviews of Progress, which will assess progress made by a prison in implementing previous recommendations in up to 20 prisons a year.

The next Chief Inspector will be expected to use their expertise to innovate and evolve the inspection approach to further strengthen the work and impact of the Inspectorate. They will work to ensure that the Inspectorate produces high-quality, evidence-based reports, which are used to help establishments, HMPPS and the Ministry of Justice to improve outcomes and help to turn people’s lives around.

Key responsibilities

The Chief Inspector for Prisons is responsible for:

  • Delivering an independent inspection programme to assess outcomes for detainees in prisons, young offender institutions, immigration detention facilities and other places of custody falling within the remit of the Inspectorate. These are judged against HMIP’s independent Expectations, which are underpinned by international human rights standards. The inspection programme also includes thematic inspections, looking at detainee experiences across the custodial estate, and Independent Reviews of Progress, designed to measure progress against inspection recommendations in selected prisons.
  • Overseeing the publication of inspection reports and representing the inspectorate publicly and in the media;
  • Keeping inspection methodologies and Expectations under constant review to ensure that HMIP remains an exemplar of international best practice.
  • Reporting to Ministers, giving evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees and replying to policy and Parliamentary consultations as appropriate, drawing on evidence gathered during HMIP inspections.
  • Delivering the UK’s obligations under the Optional Protocol for the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) for those in places of detention which fall under the remit of the Inspectorate;
  • Accounting for the appropriate use of public resources in accordance with budgetary delegation arrangements.

Person Specification

Essential criteria

  • Outstanding leadership skills and experience, including successfully managing people, resources and finances, balanced against demanding workloads;
  • Significant stakeholder management skills, highly developed inter-personal and communication skills, and a track record of collaborative working with a range of key stakeholders such as other Government Departments and inspectorates;
  • A proven ability to handle the media along with the ability to deliver difficult and challenging messages;
  • An ability to drive forward cultural transformation;
  • An ability to process and interpret complex information and to offer well developed analytical reasoning to inform judgements based on evidence; and
  • An ability to provide a strong insight into the health and educational needs of offenders, including those with additional needs and disabilities.

Desirable Criteria

The following criteria although not essential will also be taken into account by the selection panel:

  • Additional relevant experience which is transferable to the running of a public body;
  • An understanding, or experience, of the policy reform agenda, political and media landscape in which the Inspectorate works; and
  • An understanding, or experience of the criminal justice and immigration system in the UK or comparable jurisdictions, or in a relevant area such as rehabilitation or reducing reoffending.


This appointment is open to British or Commonwealth citizens, British Dependent Territories citizens, British Nationals (Overseas) citizens, British protected persons, citizens of the Republic of Ireland, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals or to those of other member states, and to certain non-EEA family members. Applicants must have rights of residence in the UK.

We welcome applications from all those who are eligible.

Existing Government Employees

As Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons was established to carry out an independent function at arm’s length from the Government, we are mindful that appointing someone who is employed by a government department might compromise that independence – or perception of independence – as well as diminishing the confidence of stakeholders and the general public. If you are in receipt of a salary from a government department and wish to apply, you should expect that – if selected for interview – the Advisory Assessment Panel will explore whether any perceived or real conflicts of interest might exist if you were to be appointed and, if so, how this might be managed or mitigated. The latter might include an undertaking to resign from government employment, if appointed, and – if considered appropriate – for there to be an interval between resignation and taking up appointment as HMCIP.

Additional Information

Pre-Appointment Scrutiny information:

The preferred candidate for the post of HMCIP will be subject to scrutiny by the Justice Select Committee prior to appointment.  The successful candidate is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen on the recommendation of the Secretary of State for Justice.

Annual leave allowance will be 31 ½ days with pay. In addition, one privilege day and eight bank holidays are to be taken at fixed times of the year.

The post-holder will normally be based at HMI Prison’s offices in 10 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, HMIP staff are currently working from home for the foreseeable future, in line with the current government advice.

Travelling expenses may not be paid for journeys from home to the base Inspectorate office, but travel and subsistence allowances may be payable when the Chief Inspector is required to travel and/or stay away overnight in the course of their duties on the same basis as that applicable to senior civil servants.

Conflict of Interest - Sept 2019
HMCI Prisons 2020 - Candidate Information Pack
Reference Request form - Sept 2019
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