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Justice Questions: Prison Officer numbers

On Tuesday, I asked the Secretary of State for Justice, Elizabeth Truss MP, about the shortage of prison officers.

I pointed out that there have been an unprecedented 6 major prison incidents in 8 weeks, something I have not seen occur in the 25 years I’ve been a MP. One of the causes for this is staffing shortages.

I wanted to know if she would confirm that the figures to September 2016 displayed a loss of 417 prison officers last year alone and that when she says that she needs to employ 2,500 new officers she actually needs to employ 4,000 in the next 12 months just to meet that 2,500 new officers she notes.

The Justice Secretary agreed with me, but she was not able to confirm my second question that she will be able to meet that number. The staffing shortage has been caused by the Government’s drastic cuts. It now requires a huge recruitment drive to solve it. But it remains my concern that we now have experienced prisoners and inexperienced prison officers. The Government need to ensure that this does not continue and our prison officers get all the support they need.

All too often prison officers are the forgotten public servants and we must all take a moment to thank them for helping keep us safe and giving people the care and support they need to turn their lives around in prison.