Signing Up

These are the usual steps involved in signing up to become a volunteer for Friends of Peterborough Prison.  Please be aware that it can take up to 3 months before you receive clearance to go into the secure areas of the prison.  Expand each heading to get more information.  If you need to download a copy of our application form you can do so by clicking this link.

Disruption caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Access to the prison for our volunteers and staff has been suspended since 20th March 2020 and we are still unable to say when this will end.  (See also our Coronavirus and FOPP page).  Our Volunteer Coordinator continues to work part time from home, but this means we do not have access to the usual resources, many of which are hosted on the prison’s secure computer network.

We will still be pleased to log and acknowledge any new volunteer applications, but will be unable to progress them in the usual way during the current emergency.  We hope you will bear with us and that you will still be interested in joining us once the crisis has passed.

Details of how to get in touch during the current coronavirus emergency can be found on our Contact Us page.


Security Clearance Vetting Procedure.

The old DBS (Disclosure and Barring System) protocol has now been retired.  Details of its replacement are given in the items below.

The first contact can occur in a number of ways.  Some may find out about us through this website, others may hear about us by word of mouth and many will come to us through PCVS (Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services) who advertise vacancies on our behalf.  By whatever means you have found us, please get in touch (details on our Contact Us page), and our Volunteer Coordinator will send you a personalised email (or a letter if you don’t have access to email) including an application form and a link to this website.  You will be asked to complete the application form and then phone to say you are ready to apply to become a volunteer.  At this stage you will be invited to come into the office (at HMP Peterborough) to have a discussion about which roles you are interested in and what positions might be available depending on your availability and experience.

As a volunteer you will be working with vulnerable adults or children, as well as being inside a secure establishment.  You will be required to submit your details so that a check can be made of your criminal record and personal details before issuing the security clearance that will be your “passport” into the prison.  This is what takes the time and is why we state at the outset that the application process may take up to 3 months, although it can sometimes be much quicker than this.

During 2020 a new security clearance system replaced the old DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) for anyone working or volunteering inside HMP Peterborough.  This new system is managed on behalf of the Ministry of Justice by Shared Services Connected Ltd ( and the application is transacted exclusively online via their secure website.

Our Volunteer Coordinator will arrange for you to be emailed by a member of the prison’s Justice Services staff, asking you for some personal details that will allow your security clearance vetting procedure to begin.  You will need to send in (usually by email), a selection of documents that will prove your identity, your right to work in the UK and declarations about your conduct and any previous or pending prosecutions or convictions.   This information will be checked by the prison staff before sending it on to SSCL with a request to begin the security clearance vetting process.

Note 1:  Some of the information required may not seem strictly relevant or applicable to your role as a volunteer, but the same vetting procedure is required for volunteers as for employees of the prison service, so we do have to provide the same evidence as all  other people regularly working or helping in the prison.

Note 2:  If you have concerns about sending sensitive personal details to the prison by email, you might like to read our suggestion for encrypting the documents first; you can download details here.  Once the documents have been received by the prison and decrypted, all further transmission within the prison and onward to SSCL takes place over secure networks.

You will then receive an email from SSCL containing a secure link to their website where you will be asked to complete an online security clearance application.  There are a lot of questions to answer and you might find it takes an hour or more to complete.  You will also need to upload the same documents that you originally supplied to the prison.  You don’t necessarily have to finish it all in one go, but there is a strict 3-week time limit to complete the application.

If all is well, you will receive confirmation by email from the prison that your security clearance has been approved.  Occasionally, there will be queries to be resolved and these will normally be dealt with directly between you and SSCL.  In the event of any problems, your contact at HMP Peterborough Justice Services (who asked you for the original documents) will be able to help.  Please note that FOPP are not allowed to be involved in the security vetting process.

Your final interview will take place once you have your SSCL security clearance.  At this stage you will sign the Volunteer Agreement and any other related paperwork and discuss your proposed volunteering role in detail.  You will be asked to make yourself familiar with the contents of our Volunteers Handbook, which contains a lot of general information as well as your responsibilities and agreements as a FOPP volunteer.

You will be taken into the prison to be photographed and fingerprinted so your biometric details can be loaded onto the prison access control system.  You will also receive your FOPP badge and lanyard.

Our Volunteer Coordinator will now be able to let the prison know that we have a new volunteer available to help in the prison and they will decide on a suitable placement, bearing in mind your stated preferences and availability.  Once this has been confirmed, you are ready to start your volunteering role.  Whenever possible, you will be shepherded in for your first shift by an existing volunteer who can answer any queries and just make the start of your volunteering experience as easy and friendly as possible.

You can always check out the First Days part of our website if you are unsure what to expect when you turn up for your first shift.  And remember our Volunteer Coordinator is always happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Now that you are a FOPP Volunteer, you will be invited to sign up to the Members’ Area of our website, where you will gain access to further resources and items of information about the prison and our roles that are of a confidential nature.