What is an Operational Unit Manager?


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What is an Operational Unit Manager?

As an Operational Unit Manager, you will be accountable for an area of the prison (for example a residential prisoner hall) or for a specific

 function such as Operations or Offender Outcomes. Within your area you'll have responsibilities such as budgets, staffing, projects and

 ensuring compliance with all legislation, rules and regulations. Most importantly though, you'll provide values based leadership to your team 

and colleagues, stakeholders, and the people in our care. 

You'll also work as a Duty Manager for the entire prison on a rotational basis, which will mean having responsibility for decision making and 

incident management across the establishment. 

If you would like to find out more about the role and responsibilities, you can read the full job description and person specification here



We asked some of our Operational Unit Managers to describe the role, and here’s what they said:

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You can read more about what they said and what a typical day looks like here. 


What is it like to work in a prison?

 If you have never been in a prison before, the environment will probably be very different to what you expect. Many of our establishments have been recently rebuilt or refurbished and are bright, open and modern spaces. 

Our prison establishments are made up of various departments, functions and teams including our operational staff, psychologists, instructors, chaplaincy staff, administrative staff, HR, finance, external partners and health care. Together they form a community which you will be at the heart of. 


What training & induction will I receive?

Successful candidates will be provided with a company induction programme covering corporate, prison operation and leadership elements.  This will include a comprehensive orientation providing a sense of who SPS are; what our mission, values and goals are; what our purpose is and where we sit within the criminal justice system.  You will have the opportunity to visit different prisons, shadow staff, learn about SPS and prison landscape as well as get to grips with the role of Operational Unit Manager.  As part of your induction you will spend some time at the Scottish Prison Service College covering a variety of operational and leadership topics as well as spending time at your Establishment undergoing local training and induction.

SPS is dedicated to supporting ongoing development of staff.  Following induction, you will have access to ongoing Peer Learning Groups, have access to a Mentor and work through specific tasks (known in SPS as Field Based Applications) to support your operational knowledge and competence. The SPS is committed to supporting all of our staff on their personal and professional development journeys.


Why work for the SPS? 

  • You'll be working in an environment where no two days are the same. As one team member described it "every day is different and dynamic"
  • You'll have the opportunity to work with a hugely diverse group of people (both staff and those in our care) and build meaningful and impactful relationships.
  • As an Operational Unit Manager, you will be in a unique position to make a difference and implement meaningful change. The actions and decisions you take will have a large impact, both within the establishment, but also within the wider communities across Scotland. 
  • As an organisation we employ over 4,500 staff, meaning there are multiple opportunities for career progression and development. 
  • You'll receive a range of benefits including a generous annual leave entitlement and civil service pension. See further information about benefits here.

 Please click here to view our Frequently Asked Questions document. 


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