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Atrium Prison Counselling Service (APCS) Vetting, Induction and Onboarding Process.

Atrium Prison Counselling Service (APCS) Vetting, Induction and Onboarding Process

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Before being able to work in a prison setting a prospective Atrium therapist/candidate will need to successfully complete security vetting checks. The individual process for vetting may vary slightly in each site, but the process is generally consistent across each prison.

Security vetting can be a lengthy and drawn-out process that can take from 4 weeks to 6 months to complete. When interviewing candidates for roles it is essential that you set their expectations from the outset and stay in regular communication with them throughout, to minimise the risk of candidates pulling out of the recruitment process.

The vetting process can also be significantly impacted by seasonal delays such as the Christmas or summer breaks, as well as events such as COVID 19. It is therefore essential that the person managing the vetting process, and the new therapist/candidate stay in regular contact with relevant parties at each stage, to ensure momentum within the process is maintained.

Please note that candidates must not be given access to any confidential systems or documentation related to their job, until they have successfully completed their vetting and security training and Atrium has received a signed copy of the candidate’s contract.

General Process
  1. Once a new therapist has accepted an offer of a paid or self-employed contract with Atrium, they will need to provide the following documentation to the Atrium Head Office Manager (Jemma Paxman):
    1. Copy of Photo ID (Passport or driving licence)
    2. Copy of personal indemnity insurance
    3. Copy of membership organisation registration (BACP, UKCP, BPS)
    4. Copy of qualification certificates
    5. Copy of Utility Bill with home address (no less than 3 months old)
    6. National Insurance Number
    7. Declaration of any previous criminal offences
    8. Details and dates of previous or current prison/s worked in
  2. Once Jemma has received the above documentation, she will process the new therapists DBS certificate. Please note that only 1 DBS certificate is required to work at multiple prison sites. Jemma will liaise directly with the new therapist throughout this process.
  3. Once the new therapist receives their DBS, Jemma will contact the relevant department/s in the prison site/s that the new therapist will be working to start the MOJ prison vetting process (Please see details below).
  4. Once vetting has been successfully completed,
    1. 6 to 8 weeks for Category B prisons, up to 6 months for Category A prisons. Please note that in Category A prisons once level 2 enhanced has been signed off, Atrium can request an Acceptance of Risk (AOR) for the new therapist from the relevant prison governor to enable the new therapist to start working sooner whilst they wait for their CTC clearance. AOR’s can be requested via the prison Head of Healthcare and HHC PA).
    2. Jemma will update the new therapist, the clinical lead, and the clinical director, as well as posting the new therapist a contract to sign, and Atrium Lanyard, and a COREnet token (Please note that Therapists are not allowed to take their COREnet token in to any prison site until they have obtained written permission from the relevant security department. Once written permission has been obtained the new therapist is required to keep it on them at all times, especially when going through security at the gate, as without it they may be denied access to the prison and/or the token might be withheld by the security department pending a security breach investigation. Written permission from security may only be obtained whilst the new therapist has started their induction and can be done so by completing a form with the clinical lead that is provided by the prison Healthcare Admin department.)
    3. Once Jemma receives a signed copy of the contract, she will contact the relevant prison department (see details below) to book the new therapist in for their security training. Please note that a new therapist will not be able to draw keys until they have completed their security training. Security training requirements differ depending upon the prison. Please note that security training is on a group basis, is mandatory and non-negotiable in terms of dates and times.
  5. Once security training has been successfully completed the Clinical Lead will contact the new therapist to confirm/provide the following:
    1. Induction template (Inductions normally take approx. 6 weeks)
    2. Start date and requirements for first day and ongoing induction
  6. Once the new therapist successfully completes their induction, the Clinical Lead will notify Jemma and the Clinical Director.
  7. Please note that if a new therapist is intended to be working in more than one site within the Greenwich cluster it is best to start the vetting first at HMP Thameside first (as it is the easiest and quickest site to obtain clearance. Once the new therapist has obtained their clearance at HMP Thameside the Clinical Lead needs to email the person/s responsible for vetting at the other sites (HMP Belmarsh or HMP Isis) to inform them that the new therapist has completed their vetting at HMP Thameside and would now like to start their vetting in the other prison/s. HMP Belmarsh and HMP Isis will not commence vetting if a new candidate has already started their vetting process at HMP Thameside.
Individual Prison Processes
HMP Belmarsh

Because HMP Belmarsh is a category A prison, it requires the highest level of clearance (Enhanced Level 2, and Counter Terrorism Clearance (CTC)). Because of the level of detail required in the 2-phase vetting process it can take up to 6 months to complete.

As an interim measure once the new therapist has achieved their Level 2 (Enhanced) vetting, the Atrium Clinical Lead can request an Acceptance of Risk (AOR) from the Prison Governors, via the Head of Healthcare. An acceptance of risk gives the new therapist the right to work in the prison whilst they are waiting for their CTC vetting to complete.

To begin the vetting process at HMP Belmarsh, the Clinical Lead will need to email the following person, copying in the candidate with the following email:

  • Email to: John Young (Intelligence Officer) 020 8331 4783
  • Email Subject: Action Requested – Security vetting for HMP Belmarsh for New Trainee/Qualified Therapist (Therapist Name – as it appears on their photo ID)
  • Email Content: Dear John. There is a new (job role), hoping to start with the Atrium Counselling Team as part of Healthcare. His/her name is (Therapist name – as appears on photo ID). We plan for them to be working at HMP Belmarsh on a part time basis on the following day/s (Name day/s). I have copied (Therapist name) into this email. Please could I request that you contact (therapists name) to start the CTC vetting process? Thank you for your help. Kind regards….
  • John Young will then email the new therapist with the following documents and information:
    • CRF HCC (confidential document)
    • Acceptable Documents (confidential document)
    • Please find attached vetting form and list of acceptable ID and proof of address documents. Please complete sections 2, 3,5A and 5B only then return it to via email. Not the button at the bottom of the form. Proofs of ID and addresses can be e mailed to John Young. Applicants need to provide one form of ID and two forms of address (Passport for ID if you do not hold a passport a Birth Cert is required) and for the 2 proofs of address the documents required are listed in the Acceptable documents attached. Once your vetting has been submitted you will receive 2 separate emails directly from SSCL so keep checking your e mails and junk mail these are time sensitive, so a prompt response is advised.
  • Once the new Therapist has successfully obtained their CTC or AOR clearance. The Atrium Clinical Lead will need to contact the following person to book the new therapists security key training and copy the new therapist into the email. Key training is scheduled on Mondays and attendance is a mandatory requirement that needs to be completed before the new therapist can draw keys,
    • Tony Bunyan (Security/Operations Custodial Manager – Use of Force co-ordinator) , 020 8331 4667
    • Email Subject – Action Requested – Please book new member of staff (Therapist Name) in for the next Key Training Session.
    • Email Content – Hi Tony, would it be possible to book a new starter for Atrium Counselling Service in Healthcare for the key talk on Monday (Date)? His/her name is (Therapist Name). Thank you.
  • Once the new therapist has completed their key training, the next time they arrive at the gate. The new therapist will need to inform reception and ask that their biometrics be updated to staff. Once this has been done the new therapist should be able to draw keys.
HMP Thameside

Because HMP Thameside is a category B and private prison, the vetting process is normally quicker (between 4 to 6 weeks).

To begin the vetting process at HMP Thameside, the Clinical Lead will need to email the following people, copying in the candidate with the following email:

  • Email to: Nicola (Nicky) Gunning (Business Services Coordinator) 0208 331 7354,; and Gemma Hickson (Business Services Coordinator, T: 0208 331 7354,
  • Email Subject: Action Requested – Security vetting for HMP Thameside for New Trainee/Qualified Therapist (Therapist Name – as it appears on their photo ID)
  • Email Content: Dear Gemma and Nicky. There is a new (job role), hoping to start with the Atrium Counselling Team as part of Healthcare. His/her name is (Therapist name – as appears on photo ID). We plan for them to be working at HMP Thameside on a part time basis on the following day/s (Name day/s). I have copied (Therapist name) into this email. Please could I request that you contact (therapists name) to start the vetting process? Thank you for your help. Kind regards….
  • Once Gemma and Nicky have received the vetting request, they email the candidate directly with an email requesting documentation for the process (Example email below):

Further to the below email from Becky, can you please confirm whether you have worked within a prison establishment within the last year? If you have, then I can check your clearance level with the SSCL team. If not, we will need to start your security checks as soon as possible. To do this, I will need to arrange for you to visit HMP Thameside (Monday/Tuesday only) to bring in the below documents;

  1. original Passport and Biometric residence permit (if applicable) both must be in date or a Birth Certificate (if a Birth certificate is supplied, we will also require sight of a photo driving license).
  2. Proof of NI Number
  3. Two proofs of your current address (i.e the documents must be addressed to you and posted to your current address), which can be supplied from the documents listed below,
    • A driving license (full or provisional)
    • Bank statement/credit card statement (the statements must be posted to your home and must be dated within the last 3 months.
    • Online/electronic bank statements will not be accepted. Instead, you may need to contact your bank and request that they post a statement directly to your home address.
    • Printed bank statements received over the counter from a bank clerk/cashier will not be accepted.
    • Utility bill (dated within the last 3 months). Please note, Mobile Phone bills will not be accepted.
    • P60/P45 dated in the last year
    • Council tax bill (dated in last 12 months)
    • Mortgage statement
    • Financial Statement e.g., pension, endowment (dated in the last 12 months),
    • A document from central/Local Government/Government Agency/ Local authority e.g., from the Department of Work and Pensions (dated within the last 3 months)

If you have been out of the country for more than 3 months in the last three years, we will also need a Police National Computer check (PNC) from the country/countries concerned to complete your vetting. DBS Certificate for Oxleas staff only. Please let me know what dates/times are good for you, and I will check my availability and book you in.

  • Once the vetting paperwork has been submitted and vetted and a decision has been reached, Nicky or Gemma will email the Atrium Clinical Lead to confirm the outcome.
  • Once vetting has been confirmed the Clinical Lead will need to email the security training coordinator (Natalia Prucnal-Rycerz, Training Lead, HMP Thameside, Serco Group plc, +44 (0)2083179777 ext. 353, ) to book the new therapist onto the next security/key talk training.
  • Please note that the security training at HMP Thameside is a mandatory 3 days (Normally a Tues, Weds, Thurs), and it only happens once a month. Which means that a new therapist may have to wait up to 3 months after they have completed vetting to be able to attend the security training. If there is an extended delay to a security cleared candidate being able to start their induction, we can approach the Head of Healthcare, Modoulamin Barrow (Modou), and copy in Healthcare Head of Admin in Sharon Burke to see if an extended gate pass (6 weeks) might be made available so that the candidate can start their induction, even though they are unable to draw keys. Please note that decisions relating to this are on a case-by-case basis and is at the discretion of the HHC and the prison Security department. Sometimes security will be able to do a ‘quick’ key training if there is a long delay before the new therapist/candidate can attend the full 3 day training so that they can draw keys. Again this needs to be requested via the HHc and HHC Admin, Sharon at Thameside
  • Once the new therapist has successfully completed their security training, they will need to attend reception onsite in the prison to obtain their security pass photo ID and put their biometrics onto the security system. They will need a manager or Senior member of the Atrium team to accompany them to do this.
  • Once the new Therapist has obtained their security ID. The Clinical Lead will need to email to Head of Security (Andy Clarke, Security Intelligence Manager, HMP Thameside, Serco UK and Europe, 0208 3317 377,, and copy in Gemma and Nicky from HR, and Natalia from security training, and Modou HHC to confirm that the new therapist has completed their vetting, security training and biometrics, and that they now need clearance to be able to draw keys.
  • Once Andy emails to confirms clearance has been granted the new therapist should be able to successfully draw keys and start their induction.
HMP Isis

HMP Isis is an MOJ prison. The process is normally straight forward, but the security department are not always the best at communicating so you do need to manage the process to ensure progress is made (regular and polite prompting). At HMP Isis the process for security vetting is as follows:

  1. Clinical Lead/Atrium Admin email the Head of Healthcare and copy in Head of Admin to request their support in outing a new member of staff through vetting (Email copy as in other sites). Primrose Nyakupinda |Head of Healthcare |Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust | HMP/YOI Isis |Tel: 0203 356 4385 l Mob 07826 548725 PA – Stacey Uden ( ) 0203 356 4202/4257
  2. Once email permission has been received by the Clinical Lead/Atrium Admin Manager they need to forward that email to Jill Jolliffe, Security Department Collator, Vetting Contact Point, HMP/YOI Isis, T: 0203 356 4135, F: 0203 356 4002 E: to request to start the vetting process for the new therapist/candidate (Email copy as per other sites).
  3. Jill will then email the new therapist/candidate to request vetting documentation (Example email as below):

Good afternoon, X,

I have been asked to start the vetting process for you.

Please contact me by email or phone to arrange a day and time which would be suitable for you to come in to HMP Isis so that I can check and photocopy your documents.

You will need to bring proof of your ID such as your passport and 2 different proofs of current address which can be any 2 of the following: driving licence, bank statement, credit card statement (not online banking statement), utility bills (not mobile phone) and credit-card statement no older than 3 months.

A council tax statement, mortgage statement and P45/P60 can be up to 12 months old.

I will also need a passport sized photo, your National Insurance number and take a copy of your current DBS certificate.

Kind Regards,

Jill Jolliffe

  • Once vetting has been successfully completed Jill will email the Clinical Lead/Atrium Admin to confirm the outcome.
  • Once confirmation has been received the Clinical Lead/Atrium Head of Admin will need to email the people hub to book the security/key training, and copy Jill and the HHC into the email.
    Security/key training at HMP Isis normally happens on a Monday afternoon on a fortnightly basis.
  • Once security training has been completed the new therapist/candidate should be able to draw keys the net time they are onsite, so that they can start their induction.
HMP Wormwood Scrubs

HMP Wormwood Scrubs is an MOJ category B prison. Its Head of Security is somewhat notorious for being very strict, and therefore it is important that you follow the vetting process by the letter. If you, don’t it may significantly delay the process.

The process for security vetting if the new therapist/candidate at HMP Wormwood Scrubs is as follows:

  • The Atrium Clinical Lead/Head of Admin emails the DHHC (Deputy Head of Healthcare) Martina Dumbuya │ Deputy Head of Healthcare │HMP/YOI Wormwood Scrubs | 020 8588 3397 │07813579640 │, to introduce the new therapist/candidate and request to start the vetting process (email copy as per other sites). Please note that Martina is extremely busy, and the only person who can manage vetting requests so you may need support from the therapists onsite to politely prompt Martina in person, as email only can take a very long time to respond to.
  • Once the request has been received by Martina, she will email the new therapist/candidate to request the first part of the vetting information:
    • Name (full name) as appears on photo ID
    • DOB
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Personal email address
    • NI number
    • Job role
  • Once the above information has been received by Martina she emails the Head of Security to request the start of the vetting process. Liz McLelland, VCP & Security, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, 02085883274,
  • Liz will then email the new therapist/candidate the following email:

Subject: FW: HMP Wormwood Scrubs Vetting HCC – PC-HCC – (ROLE)

Dear X

Enhanced Pre-Appointment Check for PC-HCC – (ROLE)

(Must have a DBS certificate dated with the last 12 months).

You are currently being considered for a “not directly employed role” within HMPPS. Before you can commence work, certain Pre-Appointment checks need to be completed.

You are required to present ORIGINAL documents in person to prove your:


Address (2 proof of Address details required please check Guidance Notes for correct Documents and Dates)

Right to Work in the UK (i.e.: UK Passport, UK Birth Certificate, or Non-UK Passport with Biometrics Permit or Visa or EU Settlement or Pre-Settlement)

Please used the attached “Check Documents Tool” so you bring in the correct documents. Further information in the guidance attached.

You will also need to provide ORIGINAL proof of the following:

Headed Letter from your Employer confirming your employment and role in the Prison

Proof of Professional Registration Number and Renewal Date last 12 months

Original Enhanced DBS Certificate dated within the last 12 mths.

An Official Document with National Insurance Number on it.

Three passport sized photographs

Confirm your Email Address

The documents will be photocopied, certified and the originals returned to you.

Once you have presented your document, we will asked SSCL to forward to you, via your email address, a link to the vetting questionnaire, which you must complete electronically.

Please contact Healthcare Centre: Healthcare Manager Martina Dumbuya via Email:

to arrange an appointment for you to come in and have your documents to be checked. Please note checks must be done within 4 weeks. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me, my details are given below.

Kind Regards

Liz McLelland

  • As soon as the new therapist/candidate meets with Liz to submit their paperwork the vetting process can begin.
  • When Liz receives confirmation that the vetting has successfully completed, she will contact Martina (DHHC) who will in turn notify the therapist/new candidate and the Atrium Clinical Lead/Head of Admin. Liz will also then commence the next security/key training day that the new therapist/candidate can be booked on to.
  • Please note that security/key training at HMP Wormwood Scrubs is for 1 day (normally a Wednesday), and it only happens monthly. Full attendance is mandatory, and it starts early at 8am. If the new therapist/candidate is late or leaves early for any reason they will need to attend the next training day in full.
  • Once the new therapist/candidate has completed the security/key training they will need to book in a follow up day with Liz (Head of Security) to complete their biometrics and collect their security pass. Once this has been completed the new therapist/candidate will be able to draw keys and start their induction.
HMP Wandsworth

HMP Wandsworth is a new site, so we are still confirming details of the full process. What we know so far.

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