Responding to the announcement today by Justice Secretary Liz Truss MP, the justice services union Community says the government must not forget private prisons when making additional funding available for recruitment. The union, which represents the majority of private sector prison officers, has welcomed the fact the government has started to respond to many issues identified by its ‘Safer Justice Sector’ campaign.
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:
“The government is right to address staffing levels but it is crucial that private prisons are not overlooked or underfunded. Our members may work in the private sector but they perform a public duty. Prisoners don’t choose between public or private establishments and neither they nor our members working on the frontline should be forgotten. There is a strong case for action because the ongoing safety crisis runs across both the private and the public prison estate.
“Our lead representatives met this morning to discuss Community’s response to the announcement and emphasised all prison officers, no matter who employs them, deserve to work in appropriately staffed, safe working environments so that they are best able to protect prisoners, the public and perform their vital role in rehabilitating offenders.
“It is vital that the prison safety crisis is resolved but to do so will require calm heads and considered responses and Community stands ready to work with both the government and employers to improve safety across the justice sector. Community has been campaigning for a safer justice sector and we welcome the fact the government has recognised that more must be done.”
Earlier this year Community launched a campaign for the government and prison contractors to adopt a ‘Safe Operating Solutions’ charter to secure a safer justice sector for prison staff and prisoners. Today’s announcement reflects many of the concerns that Community has raised through its campaign.