Commenting on the speech on prison reform delivered by the Prime Minister today, Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of justice services trade union, Community said:
“Big speeches about prison reform are all well and good, but will make little difference if the government do not tackle the two major challenges facing prisons today – understaffing and overcrowding. These issues are the root cause of deteriorating conditions – particularly the safety of both prisoners and staff. Since 2010, a third of all prison staff jobs have disappeared – this simply is not sustainable.
“If the government gives more powers to prison governors, these must be underpinned by clear, safe operating standards across all prisons and prison contracts. Many UK prisons are operated by private contractors; staff in these prisons cannot be forgotten and David Cameron must ensure that proper training is always in place and that officers are never left in dangerous situations.
“Prison staff have an important role in rehabilitating offenders, but with assaults on staff and the abuse of psychoactive substances on the increase, their jobs are becoming harder than ever. Community, representing thousands of workers in the justice sector, stands ready to work with government and contractors in working to reduce violence and drive up standards across the sector.”