Emma Reynolds: Shortfall of prison officers will plunge jails deeper into crisis
Drug abuse and violence in Britain’s jails will get worse unless the Government stops the deluge of experienced prison officers leaving the profession, a Labour MP has warned.
Emma Reynolds said the country’s jails were in a ‘deeply worrying’ position due to senior staff quitting – often over dreadful working conditions and inmates ruling the roost behind bars.
The Wolverhampton North East MP said ‘desperate’ Government moves to replace departing officers with graduates would lead to a dearth of experience in the system.
The Government says there has been a net increase of 3,111 prison officers between October 2016 and March 2018.
However, since 2010 there are around 7,000 fewer prison officers overall, while the number of staff retiring has doubled in the last two years.
Ms Reynolds cited the failings of HMP Birmingham – which the Ministry of Justice took over from G4S after a shocking report revealed widespread violence and drug use – as evidence of the need for experienced officers.
“I have a real concern – which is shared by those in the profession – about the ratios of prison officers to prisoners,” the MP said.
“We are losing a lot of experienced staff and the Government is trying to snap up graduates, simply because they are desperate to fill the gaps
“There is nothing wrong with graduates going to work in prisons, but it means that vital experience is disappearing.
“There are not enough officers, which makes it harder for the existing officers to keep control of the prison.”