Community has welcomed the news that an extra 2,500 prison officers have been recruited since 2016, but has warned that good recruitment numbers alone will not be enough to tackle the problems in the modern prison estate.
Adrian Axtell, Community’s national officer for the justice sector said:
“An increase in the number of prison officers is a step in the right direction, but there is still much that government can do to make our prisons safer places to work. Since 2010 we have seen a steady increase in violence against prison officers, and there can be no doubt that staff cuts are partly to blame.
“In the private prison sector, Community has been working with employers to raise staff levels not just through recruitment but also the retention of experienced officers. Too many long-serving prison officers are choosing to leave the profession and government must do more to recognise the loyalty and retain their valuable skills.
“The recruitment of new officers is vital, but the training those recruits receive before going onto the landings is just as important. Community has been campaigning for improved training for new officers so they are fully equipped to tackle the new challenges emerging in prisons today.
“Prisons officers will welcome this announcement, but it is important that government commits to working in partnership with trade unions and private providers to ensure the whole justice sector is a safe place to work and deliver vital public services.”