The role of a Detention Custody Officer (DCO) and how to apply

The role of DCO is a hundred different challenges a day, every day. It’s also the opportunity to make an impact where it’s needed most, by helping vulnerable people turn things around.

Really make a difference to people’s lives

“You’ve got to be adaptable, because in this role, you’re many things. You’re a carer, a teacher, a parent and a counsellor.”

Stacey, Custody Officer

Who you’ll be supporting

Both of our IRCs house a diverse and ever-changing population of residents who are being detained due to their immigration status. They all have different backgrounds, faiths, beliefs and cultural values. Despite these differences, they’re all at an important and often stressful point in their lives. And this is where your role will matter most.

The difference you’ll make, every day

You’ll help to create a safe, supportive environment, where residents are treated with decency and respect from the moment they arrive. Throughout their stay, you’ll help them access support and services including healthcare, welfare, faith and cultural provisions, education and recreation activities. You’ll also build rapport and relationships – providing the residents with support, guidance and understanding. 

What else is involved

Our centres are open 24/7, so you’ll have to cover various shift patterns, including days, evenings, weekends, nights and bank holidays. You’ll always be supported by our exceptional team. You’ll also receive a nine-week Initial Training Course, as well as plenty of opportunities to shadow experienced staff to give you a real taste of life on the job.

We do offer part time and flexible working patterns although you must be able to attend the initial training course for a 9 week period.

Qualifications and application

What do you need to qualify for the role?

There’s no ideal background to become a Detention Custody Officer, but there’s definitely an ideal kind of person. You’ll need the emotional intelligence to understand and reassure others, even if you can’t speak their language. Adaptability is important too, as are patience, communication skills and a genuine commitment to helping people.

In addition, you’ll need a good level of basic fitness, which will be tested as part of the application process. While English doesn’t need to be your first language - and in fact, additional languages are a huge bonus – we’ll also test your English and Maths skills (to Level 2 Key Skills).

This role is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and all offers of employment are subject to security clearance checks and approval by the Home Office, which includes a three-year checkable history plus vetting and referencing.


Please click on the apply button below to begin your application.

Occasionally we receive a large volume of applications for our roles and when that happens we sometimes bring the closing date forward, so please apply promptly to avoid disappointment.

We’re a Disability Confident employer and are committed to equal opportunities. If you have any additional queries, requirements or you need more time to apply, then please contact our recruitment team directly on 0345 010 4000. Disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the job will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities at an interview.

Please apply for Yarl's Wood IRC or Gatwick IRC below:

Gatwick IRC

Hours – Full time, Part time and flexible hours available

Salary – £25,533.00 (40 hours full time equivalent)

Yarl's Wood IRC

Hours – Full time, Part time and flexible hours available

Salary – £24,000 per annum, rising to £26,000 after 2 years (42 hours full time equivalent)