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Unlocked |

Employer profile

About Unlocked

On the Unlocked Graduates leadership and development scheme you get two years to become a leader, one funded master’s, and support to make a real difference on the frontline in prisons.

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Two years. 196 life-changing chats. 4.7 million steps walked on prison landings.

For graduates on the Unlocked Leadership Development Programme, two years goes in the blink of an eye in prison. In that time, you’ll develop sought-after skills – in settings and situations you wouldn’t believe.

This isn’t your standard graduate scheme. And this isn’t for standard graduates. You’ll train for six weeks. Then you’ll be ready to make a difference as a prison officer, in a close-knit team. We’ll make every second count. And we’ll support you to gain a fully-funded Master’s, develop policy to change the system, do a placement with a top employer – and ultimately, work with some of society’s most vulnerable people to help reduce the £18 billion cost of reoffending.

This is two years to become a leader. One opportunity to change society. Make it count.

Equality and diversity

Unlocked is working to build a fairer prison system. A diverse and inclusive workforce is essential to doing this.

We celebrate the diversity of our participants and the rich experience their varied backgrounds bring – both to Unlocked as an organisation and their vital frontline work in prisons. In a role that is heavily focused on building and managing relationships with complex and often vulnerable individuals, as well as being a key part of the social and political landscape, it is vital that the prison workforce aims to be representative of the people they work with. This relates to all aspects of diversity from age to race and sexual orientation.

The challenge

The disproportionate representation of certain groups in the criminal justice system is a major issue – and a priority for Unlocked. People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are over-represented in the prison population (making up more than 25% of the adult male prison population and over 50% of young people) compared to the general population. The over-representation of people from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community is also significant. Around five percent of people in prison identify as Gypsy, Roma or Traveller, compared to an estimated 0.1 percent of the general population in England.

Taking action

Against this backdrop of over-representation of minority groups among the prisoner population, it is particularly problematic that the prison officer workforce is largely white with just 10 percent of officers self-identifying as being from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background.

This representation discrepancy contributes to a lack of trust in the system and is a factor that inhibits many prisoners from ethnic minorities from engaging with purposeful activity and programmes aimed at rehabilitation and desistance from crime.

Unlocked aims to reverse this by recruiting exceptional candidates from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds to the programme. The 2017 Lammy Review – into the treatment of, and outcomes for individuals from ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system – cited Unlocked as an example of best practice.

How are we doing?

Across our first four cohorts, Unlocked participants are:

  • 30 percent male and 70 percent female
  • 80 percent white and 20 percent BAME
  • 10 percent LBGT+ identifying


To achieve our ambitious goals for diversity in our recruitment, Unlocked offers free, independent coaching for applicants from ethnic minorities. This is delivered by a third-party expert consultant who helps applicants plan and navigate the application process. Once you start an application you will receive further information on this process and how you can access the materials

More from Unlocked

Industry recognition
The UK 300 2021/22

The UK 300 2021/22

The 300 most popular graduate employers in the UK, as voted by students

Shortlisted - The best student marketing campaign award

Shortlisted - The best student marketing campaign award

As voted for by students. Announced at the targetjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2022

Shortlisted - The graduate employer of the year award

Shortlisted - The graduate employer of the year award

As voted by industry leaders. Announced at the targetjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2022

Industry sectors
  • Charity, Public & Civil Service
  • Social, Community & Youth
  • Charities & Voluntary Sector
  • Law Enforcement