Easington MP Grahame Morris has uncovered the loss of 86,000 years of prison officer experience, following questions to the Ministry of Justice.
On 25th March, Mr Morris asked the Secretary of State for Justice to assess the cumulative number of years of experience held by all prison officers in each year since 2010.
Prisons Minister, Alex Chalk MP, revealed that over 86,000 years of prison officer experience had been lost since 2010.
In July 2020, the Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB) recommended a £3,000 pay rise for Band 3 officers to quell the number of prison officers leaving the service. This pay rise would deliver savings through improving staff retention.
The Government rejected the proposals in December 2020.
Grahame Morris MP said,
“Prisons are a dangerous working environment, in which staff live on high alert with the constant threat of violence. In these conditions we lose any hope to rehabilitate prisoners.
The Government is responsible for the loss of more than 86,000 years of experience. Ministers are out of touch with the realities on the ground, as no reasonable person would reject an independent pay recommendation, cut prison officer numbers to dangerous levels, or risk the personal safety of those serving on the frontline by raising the pension age to 68 years old.
Experienced prison officers have voted with their feet, retiring or leaving the service, as the Government disregard pay, pensions and conditions, leaving underpaid, under-valued and inexperienced staff in dangerous and violent conditions.
The Government are failing prison officers, prisoners, and the public, as without rehabilitation, violent criminals are released back onto our streets to continue the cycle of crime facilitated by a failing criminal justice system.
Our priorities are clear.
1.) Fair pay as recommended by the Prison Service Pay Review Body.
2.) A safe retirement age, recognising the mental and physical demands of a dangerous job.
3.) A working environment that promotes safety and reduces violence, with prison landings being appropriately staff with experienced officers that can avert problems before they develop.”
Mark Fairhurst, National Chairman of the Prison Officers Association (POA), which represents over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, said, “The POA are shocked by the revelation that over 80,000 years of experience has been lost on the frontline since 2010.
Recovering from this will be difficult if Government fail to listen to this union and the people we represent. Safety, pay and retirement age must be prioritised if we are to retain the experience we currently have and entice future staff.”