Prison Catering 

Professional, rewarding and regularised hours

inspire and Rehabilitate

Become a caterer with Her Majesty’s prison service

Working as a caterer in the prison service will offer you stability, flexibility, a good salary and pension, plus civil service benefits. Join a professional environment where you have the opportunity to mentor and oversee the work of offenders, helping them to learn new skills.

It is a great chance to put your catering skills into practice, working with the team to prepare meals for the entire prison. The quality of food has a real impact on prison morale, and you will use your skills to create quality, nutritional meals every day. Managing offenders who are keen to learn a skill you will have an impact far beyond the kitchen by helping them earn a qualification for future employment.

What is it like to prepare food for an entire prison?


Prison Caterer

As a prison caterer (Band 3) you will work with offenders to prepare, cook and serve food under the supervision of a catering supervisor.



    • Prepare and cook food using ingredients with minimal waste
    • Support offenders to work safely and efficiently
    • Co-ordinate supplies of food and ingredients
    • Cater for diets on grounds of religious beliefs and medical issues
    • Serve food from the kitchen or hotplate, and deliver food by trolley
    • Check hygiene and contribute to the review of catering standards


You will also help to select and train offenders for kitchen duties. Your responsibilities can involve keeping training records up to date, monitoring work, and helping to maintain safety and security of the prison.


"Hopefully every day we make a small difference to offender's lives, giving them the skills and mentality to go out and find a job."

Chris, Prison Caterer

Pay & Benefits

You will work a 37 hour week. Pay depends on where you work in England and Wales.


Whilst the hours worked will be within a core day generally, like other catering jobs, a shift pattern is in place which will include:


  • Hours outside of 0700 -1900 hours Monday to Friday
  • Weekends
  • Bank/public holidays.


You will therefore receive a 17% unsocial hours payment in addition to your basic pay, subject to working these hours.


All roles can be open to part-time and job share arrangements, however you will still be required to undertake the full range of shifts.


New recruits joining HMPPS will be brought in on the minimum of the band pay range.



of up to 20% of your salary
as part of the civil service pension scheme


paid annual leave
rising to 30 days after 10 years of service


Standard working week
with extra pay for unsocial hours if applicable


Childcare Vouchers, cycle to work, travel loans
and lots more

What you need to apply

To work in a prison catering job you need:

    • To be at least 18 years old at the time of employment
    • The right to work in the UK
    • Fluent English or Welsh if specified

Qualifications and Experience

    • Level 2 Certificate in Food Production within Hospitality and Catering or equivalent
    • Must have City and Guilds 7061/7062 or NVQ Level 3 in Catering or Food Production or be willing to work towards this qualification in an agreed timescale
    • Food Hygiene Certificate Level 2
    • up-to-date knowledge of current health, safety and hygiene related regulations for working in a kitchen
    • catering experience, ideally in commercial or mass catering for schools, events or the armed forces

Tips for applying

You will need to provide a CV and 5 short written statements in your application.

-          CV

  • You will be required to provide your CV in an anonymised format known as “name blind” which will help us recruit based on your knowledge and your skills rather than your background, gender or ethnicity. This is to ensure the process is fair and irrelevant information is not taken into account during the selection process.
  • Make sure your CV includes details of any relevant qualifications and experience.

-          Additional information

  • You will need to answer two questions which outline your past experience. You’ll need to tell us about your previous catering roles or, if a recent college leaver, your college experience.
  • You will also need to answer three specific ‘behavioural’ questions. We will ask you how you would react in a specific situation, and want to know what you have done (or what you would do) to be effective in your job. Remember to be specific in your answer to address the questions that are asked. Don’t assume the recruitment manager will understand the situation you were facing.

You will also help to select and train offenders for kitchen duties. Your responsibilities can involve keeping training records up to date, monitoring work, and carrying out pat-down searches if needed.


“Food is incredibly important in a place where people's movement is restricted. It really affects morale. I want to make sure that every meal is the best it can possibly be and that the boys enjoy the food here.

Andy, Catering Manager



Working for HM Prison & Probation Service

Her Majesty's Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS), created in April 2017, oversees 121 prisons and employs over 42,000 staff across England and Wales. You will be working for an organisation that rewards performance, invests in your career development and cares about your well being both inside and outside of work.

Visit us on Facebook to find out more about working in the prison  and keep in touch after you apply. 

© 2019 HM Prison & Probation Service