The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) is operationally independent of the Ministry of Justice and wholly independent of the services it investigates (HMPPS covering the prison service and probation services, Youth Justice Board covering secure training centres and Home Office Immigration Enforcement covering immigration detention). Administrative guarantees of this independence are set out in the PPO’s Terms of Reference.

The PPO currently employs just over 100 staff in either an investigative or support function. The Ombudsman is a Non-Statutory Public Appointee, while his staff are all civil servants employed by the PPO’s sponsoring department, the Ministry of Justice. Previously, all staff were Home Office civil servants when that department was the sponsor.

As in any organisation, the PPO’s staff have a range of employment backgrounds. These include posts outside the civil service, as well as civil service posts in various Government Departments and their agencies.

After interest in Parliament and elsewhere about the backgrounds of staff in independent investigative bodies such as the PPO, we conducted the first snapshot survey of our staff’s employment background in September 2012 – this data had not previously been otherwise obtainable.

The PPO needs a good mix of experience across its staff complement, including some with previous operational knowledge of the organisations subject to investigation. However, the PPO is, first and foremost an independent investigative body. Staff are recruited, not for their background, but for their skills and competencies and the essential requirements that they need to fulfil their role. All investigators are expected to undertake accredited investigative training to develop their skills as independent investigators.

Whatever their backgrounds, all PPO staff are required to exercise absolute independence of judgement and to behave in a way that is fair, honest and impartial. These are amongst the PPO’s core values, available to read here: https://www.ppo.gov.uk/about/vision-and-values/