Liz Truss launches recruitment drive to tackle violence and drugs in prisons
Hundreds of prison officers will be recruited to combat escalating violence in ten of the “most challenging” jails across the country, the Justice Secretary will announce today.
Some £14m is to be spent on 400 extra frontline staff to combat drugs and violence in prisons in Chelmsford, Eastwood Park, Exeter, Guys Marsh, Leeds, Liverpool, Moorland, Nottingham, Wayland and Winchester.
Former military personnel will also be targeted in a recruitment drive looking for people to work on the wings and help prison officers maintain order.
The campaign to attract soldiers is intended to add at least 120 people to work in prisons in England and Wales.
It comes after figures released in July showed suicides and assaults in prison at record levels.
There were 105 “self-inflicted deaths” in the year to June and 22,195 assaults, a rise of 31%.
Meanwhile 58 prisoners died between June 2013 and January of this year who were known or suspected to have been using legal highs, according to the prisons ombudsman, Nigel Newcomen.
“Strengthening the front line will help us win out in the battle against drugs, gangs and violence standing in the way of real prison reform,” Ms Truss will tell the Conservative party conference in Birmingham.
“We are going to make prisons work… Officers tell me their numbers are stretched too thin and without more frontline staff who are better deployed, they cannot deliver prisons that are places of safety and reform. They’ve told me this and I’ve listened.”
New working practices are to be rolled out across jails in England and Wales so that prison officers can spend more time supervising inmates. Officers will be supervising about six individual offenders.
Speaking of the drive to recruit former military personnel, Ms Truss will say: “Who better to instil the virtues of discipline? Who better to show what you can achieve in life with courage and integrity?
“They will help our prison officers lead the change. Safety on our street and safety in our jails – that is the policy of this government.”