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31 Aug 2016

Prison officer numbers fall again as major recruitment drive fails

A prison officer walks along a corridor in Send prison

The number of frontline officers working in public-sector prisons has fallen over the last year, despite Ministry of Justice plans to recruit additional staff to help respond to the highest levels of violence, suicide and self-injury since recording practices began.

Statistics seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform show that there were 14,689 frontline officers (full time equivalent) in England and Wales in June 2016, down from 15,110 a year earlier. This leaves prisons with barely more frontline staff than the lows of 2014, which prompted the Ministry of Justice to embark on a major recruitment exercise.

Almost every region has seen frontline officer numbers fall in the last year, with the most significant reductions recorded in the East Midlands (8 per cent), the South West (7 per cent) and the West Midlands (7 per cent).

Previous research by the Howard League has shown how prison officer numbers were cut by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2013. Today’s figures indicate that, in spite of the government’s recruitment drive, people remain unwilling to work in prisons under present conditions.

While officer numbers fell between June 2013 and June 2016, the prison population across England and Wales rose from 83,796 to 85,130 – putting more pressure on a failing system.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Reducing resources while allowing the prison population to grow unchecked has created a toxic cocktail of violence, death and human misery. These figures show how reductions in staffing and problems in recruiting and retaining new staff are feeding the problems behind bars.

“The vast majority of those sent to prison will be released back to the community and so it matters to all of us what happens to people when they are sent to prison. Throwing someone into a raging torrent of violence, drugs and despair is not going to help that person steer away from crime. On the contrary, it will feed more crime and create yet more pressure on the failing prisons.

“The Ministry of Justice can look again at its recruitment policies but only wide-ranging reforms, which include a serious attempt at reducing prison numbers, will move us away from institutions that shame the nation.”

As the prison population has grown and frontline officer numbers have fallen, safety in jails has deteriorated significantly.

Ministry of Justice statistics released last month showed that 321 people died in prison custody during the year to the end of June 2016 – an increase of 30 per cent on the previous 12 months. They included 105 people who are thought to have taken their own lives.

Reported incidents of self-harm in prisons have risen by 27 per cent in a year. There were 34,586 reported incidents in the 12 months to the end of March 2016 – one every 15 minutes.

The number of assaults on prison staff has increased by 40 per cent. There were 5,423 incidents during the 12 months to the end of March 2016 – at a rate of almost 15 per day.

Frontline prison officer numbers

2013 2014 2015 2016
Prison Officers Prison Officers Prison Officers Prison Officers
National Offender Management Service (NOMS) HQ 40 40 40 40
Area Services 60 70 80 93
NOMS HQ and Area Services Subtotal 110 110 130 133
Askham Grange 20 10 20 21
Aylesbury 110 90 100 104
Bedford 110 100 120 110
Belmarsh 370 330 300 278
Berwyn * * * 5
Blantyre House 20 20 20 12
Blundeston 100 ** ** **
Brinsford 150 130 160 145
Bristol 160 130 130 113
Brixton 120 120 120 118
Buckley Hall 80 80 80 87
Bullingdon 190 170 160 182
Bure 110 130 120 114
Cardiff 200 160 160 148
Channings Wood 130 120 120 116
Chelmsford 180 140 160 150
Coldingley 80 80 70 83
Cookham Wood 100 80 90 95
Dartmoor 100 100 100 98
Deerbolt 130 120 110 103
Dorchester 70 ** ** **
Dover 120 100 100 82
Downview 80 60 40 45
Drake Hall 60 60 60 56
Durham 190 160 160 159
East Sutton Park 10 10 20 16
Eastwood Park 130 100 130 113
Elmley 210 200 180 182
Erlestoke 100 90 90 94
Everthorpe 110 **** **** ****
Exeter 120 110 120 105
Featherstone 110 100 110 96
Feltham 300 280 260 258
Ford 50 40 40 47
Foston Hall 90 80 90 90
Frankland 450 420 420 407
Full Sutton 320 320 310 294
Garth 180 150 190 184
Gartree 140 130 160 148
Glen Parva 170 130 160 147
Grendon 100 100 110 105
Guys Marsh 110 100 100 98
Haslar 40 40 40 30
Hatfield *** *** 50 45
Haverigg 90 80 100 103
Hewell 220 170 190 179
High Down 200 150 150 158
Highpoint 210 190 180 191
Hindley 190 170 140 107
Hollesley Bay 50 50 40 41
Holloway 150 120 120 121
Holme House 270 200 190 178
Hull 230 180 180 194
Humber **** 110 170 158
Huntercombe 70 70 70 78
Isis 130 110 120 112
Isle of Wight 300 230 260 249
Kennet 90 50 80 96
Kirkham 60 60 60 58
Kirklevington Grange 40 40 50 37
Lancaster Farms 140 110 110 110
Leeds 260 200 200 185
Leicester 90 80 100 87
Lewes 150 140 140 127
Leyhill 50 50 50 44
Lincoln 130 120 140 120
Lindholme 150 160 160 167
Littlehey 180 180 180 172
Liverpool 240 210 200 195
Long Lartin 320 290 280 262
Low Newton 110 100 100 116
Maidstone 110 90 90 83
Manchester 380 340 330 311
Moorland 220*** 200*** 140 160
Morton Hall 90 90 100 100
New Hall 150 130 130 121
North Sea Camp 40 30 30 32
Northallerton 50 ** ** **
Northumberland* 280 N/A N/A N/A
Norwich 150 170 160 154
Nottingham 230 160 200 166
Onley 100 90 120 110
Pentonville 280 220 220 211
Portland 130 120 120 109
Preston 180 150 170 151
Ranby 180 150 170 153
Reading 80 ** ** **
Risley 220 180 150 165
Rochester 160 120 130 130
Send 70 70 80 80
Sheppey Clustered Services 60 ***** ***** *****
Stafford 130 100 120 117
Standford Hill 60 40 40 44
Stocken 140 120 130 124
Stoke Heath 190 140 140 130
Styal 120 110 110 103
Sudbury 40 40 40 44
Swaleside 210 200 190 211
Swansea 110 100 110 106
Swinfen Hall 140 120 140 132
The Mount 110 110 130 138
The Verne 70 120 130 126
Thorn Cross 70 60 60 50
Usk/Prescoed 60 60 60 59
Wakefield 300 270 250 245
Wandsworth 280 260 220 220
Warren Hill 110 90 90 81
Wayland 160 140 160 155
Wealstun 150 160 160 155
Werrington 70 70 110 116
Wetherby 180 160 220 206
Whatton 140 130 130 130
Whitemoor 310 290 260 279
Winchester 140 140 160 138
Woodhill 340 290 260 299
Wormwood Scrubs 240 200 190 200
Wymott 200 180 190 186
Prison Service Establishment Subtotal 17,080 14,550 14,990 14,556
Total 17,190 14,660 15,110 14,689

 

* Berwyn prison is scheduled to open in 2017.

** Blundeston, Dorchester, Northallerton and Reading prisons were closed in December 2013.

*** Hatfield was part of Moorland prison but is now a separate prison.

**** Wolds, which had been run by G4S, and Everthorpe, which was publicly run, were merged to form Humber prison.

***** Elmley, Swaleside and Standford Hill were managed as a cluster of three prisons, but this was disbanded in 2014 and they are now run separately.


Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  1. Ministry of Justice prison workforce statistics can be found online. The Howard League has looked at the data for Band 3 to 4 prison officers, the frontline staff working on prison wings. Figures for the years 2013 to 2015 are rounded to the nearest 10.
  1. Ministry of Justice prison population statistics can be found online.
  1. The Howard League’s 2014 briefing paper, Breaking Point: Understaffing and overcrowding in prisons, can be found online.
  1. For more information about how the prison population has grown in England and Wales, visit the Howard League website.

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 – uses a G722 system

For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094.

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