NEWLY recruited prison officers have started their training at Leeds Trinity University, as the Unlocked Graduates programme expands further into Yorkshire.

Participants from the programme's 2021 cohort have started a two-year leadership scheme for prison officers.

Nearly 3,000 applications were made for the 115 places on this year’s programme. The new recruits will work full-time in 29 prisons across the country and study part-time for a Masters degree in Applied Custodial Leadership with the university.

The course starts with an intensive six week training programme, taking place at Leeds Trinity’s campus in Horsforth, during which the participants will be trained on site and spend some time in prisons across the country, where they will be taking up their posts as prison officers if successful.

This year, the Unlocked programme is expanding further north into HMP Leeds, a category B prison in the Armley area of the city, and HMP Wealstun, a category C prison near Wetherby in Yorkshire.

Dr Danielle McDermott, Academic Lead for Partnership at Leeds Trinity University and Senior Professional Practice Fellow, said: “We are delighted to welcome our second cohort of Unlocked Graduates to Leeds Trinity to study for their Masters degree in Applied Custodial Leadership. Over the past year, it has been brilliant to see the progress participants are making as they bring new ideas to lead positive change and reform the prison system, and we know this will continue with the new recruits in 2021.

“As a University, we are proud to offer a practical and innovative approach to teaching and are thrilled to work together in partnership with Unlocked to deliver this much needed programme.”

Natasha Porter, CEO and founder of Unlocked Graduates, said: “The prison officer role hasn’t traditionally appealed to the top graduates before, so it’s fantastic to see so many talented people recognise that this is an amazing opportunity to help reduce reoffending rates, and apply their undoubted talent to a hugely challenging and important public service. In these difficult times people are joining Unlocked because they want to make a difference, to do something meaningful and positive, and we are so pleased to welcome them on board.

“It’s fantastic to see there’s been such interest in Unlocked Graduates this year and I’m delighted to be back at Leeds Trinity University for our intensive training. Making this happen during a global pandemic has been a huge challenge and we are very grateful to have such a supportive partner organisation. One that really understands the importance of what we are trying to achieve.”