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The National Offender Management Services (NOMS) faced ongoing challenges to attract prison officers to HM Prisons within the Thames Valley region. Proximity to London and a relatively buoyant local economy meant that six “high-priority” prisons in the area consistently struggled to meet their target numbers for applications and hires, leading to operational challenges.

To inform an effective attraction strategy, NOMS needed to better understand the demographics of potential job seekers in the Thames Valley area; what specific audience groups the prisons could/should be targeting; who they were competing with for staff in these areas; and what these competitors were offering.


We utilised Segmentation to better understand the local demographic and determine our target audience. This encompassed applying the principles of geo-demography to consumer household and individual data collated from governmental and commercial sources. (About 850 million pieces of information across 450 data points in total.) These were then condensed using the latest analytical techniques to identify 15 summary groups and 66 detailed types that we could easily interpret and understand.

In support of this, our research approach comprised of four main strands: Analysis of demographics of current staff; Analysis of demographics of potential staff; Drive-time analysis and heat maps; and Desk research and competitor reviews.


Our highly targeted media campaign comprised geo-targeted HTML emails and mobile in-app banners; out-of-home billboard advertising; targeted Google Search activity; and innovative digital display technology (Programmatic) – allowing us to serve banner advertising to relevant audiences. (We also had the data and capability to run a targeted direct mail drop, but due to the success of the online campaign this activity wasn’t needed.)

Over the course of the 12-month campaign, the six Thames Valley prisons received over 8,700 applications against a target of 4,575.

At the end of the campaign, 86% of roles had been filled, and a pool of 400 positive applicants sat at various stages within the recruitment process.