Government pledges 400 extra prison officers for country's toughest jails

New working practices will be rolled out to help staff spend more time supervising inmates

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Indy Politics

The Government is pledging £14m to pay for 400 prison officers who will help tackle drugs and violence in the country's toughest prisons.

In a speech on the Tuesday of the Conservative party conference in Birmingham Justice Secretary Liz Truss is expected to say officers are currently “stretched too thin” to keep establishments safe and secure.

There have been over 5,000 attacks on prison staff in the last 12 months – with some institutions forced to dial 999 for the emergency services hundreds of times a year. 

Officials says the extra officers will be brought in alongside a nationwide rollout of new working practices focused on increasing the amount of time officers spend supervising prisoners.

Ms Truss is expected to say reform of the system “is the only way to break the cycle, to cut the cost to society and spare more people the misery of being a victim of crime”.

The new working practices will see officers supervising around six prisoners each.

The extra officers will be targeted at Chelmsford, Leeds, Guys Marsh, Nottingham, Winchester, Exeter, Liverpool, Eastwood Park, Wayland and Moorland prisons.

Ms Truss will say: “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.”

Last month a prison governor, Alison Clarke, of Glen Parva Young Offenders Institute in Leicester, said prisons simply did not have enough staff to protect inmates from incidents such as suicide or self-harm.

Ms Clarke told a jury that a “lack of resources from the Ministry of Justice prevented [her] staff from being able to adequately protect prisoners at risk”.