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.


Work Experience and Short-term Applications.

We are sometimes approached by school students looking for work experience in the prison.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to accept these requests.  The likely short duration of their attendance does not justify the considerable work and expense for the prison to process the necessary security clearance.

If you are a university student who may be looking to spend, say, 3 months or more here, then we can give consideration to such an applicant.  Before anyone can cross the threshold into the prison they must have passed the same rigorous security vetting procedure that applies to prison staff, officers, and anyone else who goes beyond the gatehouse.  As indicated below, this process can take typically up to 3 months, so we would need your application to be made well before your intended start date.  Even then, you must understand that there is a risk that the necessary clearance might not come through in time (we have had one instance where this process took over a year!), in which case you would not be able to go into the prison.  Furthermore, the prison staff must find you a suitable placement and this also can take some time.  The moral is: If you are seriously interested, please talk to us as early as possible.  Details of how to get in touch  can be found on our Contact Us page.


Security Clearance Vetting Procedure.

The old DBS (Disclosure and Barring System) protocol has been replaced by the SSCL (Shared Services Connected Ltd.) Security Clearance Submission for all those wishing to volunteer in any of the secure areas of the prison.  Details of the new system are given in the items below.

Those volunteers wishing to help solely in the Visitor Centre Tea Bar may be able to do so by successful completion of the somewhat simpler DBS security clearance process.  Talk to our Volunteer Coordinator about this.  (Details of how to get in touch are on our Contact Us page).

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 to let us know that you are ready to apply to become a volunteer. 

Once your application form has been received, you will be invited to attend an interview to have a discussion about your skills and ambitions, which roles you are interested in and what positions might be available depending on your availability and experience.  The interview might be held in person in the FOPP office at the prison, or remotely over Zoom.

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.

Sodexo insist that all our volunteers submit to the same security clearance procedure as any of the prison staff.  This includes a very thorough investigation into your criminal record, and you must declare all offences of which you have been convicted or which are pending (including any that would normally be classified as “spent”).  There is no exemption from this requirement.  However, disclosing such matters does not automatically mean your application for security clearance will fail.

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.  (SSCL – Shared Services Connected Limited – is the organisation chosen by the Ministry of Justice to process their security clearance applications).

For clearance  you need to  provide a range of valid identity documents from each of the following three groups:

Group 1.  A current  passport OR your full birth certificate.  If you have changed your name you will also need to produce the appropriate documents to evidence the change.

Group 2.  You also need to provide a document with your National Insurance number, such as a P60 or P45, a pension letter or NI Number letter/card from HMRC.

Group 3.  You will need to produce at least two other documents which can be as follows and must show your name and current address and must be originals and not printed from the internet:

      • Current Driving Licence Photo Card (full or provisional)
      • EU National ID Card
      • Mortgage Statement (UK or EEA) **
      • Financial Statement ** – e.g. pension, endowment, ISA (UK)
      • P45/P60 Statement **
      • Council Tax Statement (UK & Channel Islands) **
      • Bank/Building Society Statement *
      • Bank/Building Society Account opening Confirmation Letter (UK) *
      • Credit Card Statement *
      • Utility Bill (UK) * – Not a Mobile Telephone
      • Benefit Statement * – e.g. Child Allowance, Pension
      • A document from Central/ Local Government/ Government Agency/ Local Authority giving entitlement (UK & Channel Islands) * – e.g. from the Department for Work and Pensions, the Employment Service, Customs & Revenue, Job Centre, Job Centre Plus, Social Security

      **must have been produced within the last 12 months

      *must have been produced within the last 3 months

 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, and a clear plastic satchel that you will use for carrying any items that you are taking into the prison.

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.



Skip to content