Community, the leading union for justice services, has welcomed the news that staffing levels in private prisons are to rise to the same levels as the public sector within 18 months.
In the Second Reading of the Prisons and Courts Bill in the House of Commons the Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, responded to questions from Labour MPs, Caroline Flint and Wes Streeting, about the 6:1 prisoner to officer ratio that had previously been announced. Liz Truss said:
“Each officer will have responsibility for six offenders, which they’re in charge of both making sure those offenders are safe but also encouraging them to reform while they’re in prison…The head of the prison service, Michael Spurr, is in discussions with the private prisons to make sure they have access to that same level of staffing.
Adrian Axtell, National Officer of Community, said:
“I welcome this news and the recognition of the need for higher staffing levels in both the public and private sector. This is a huge achievement for our members who have been campaigning for the last year for additional staffing to alleviate the dangerous working situations they face on a daily basis across the justice sector. Staffing levels is the fundamental issue identified by our justice sector committee at the heart of the campaign they developed to create a safer justice sector.”
Tiffany Gillies, who works at a private prison and is chair of Community’s Justice Sector Committee said:
“It is crucial that other areas of the justice sector across the UK follow suit. The government now needs to work with Community to ensure that any increase in staff is adequate and meaningful to achieve safer working environments for our members in the justice sector and so prison officers can fulfil their role effectively in the rehabilitation of offenders.
“I want to thank those MPs who have spoken up for Community’s members in the House of Commons and ensured that the government has had to listened to our concerns.”