LETTER: Prison staff cuts

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The Independent Online
From Mr David Evans

Sir: To put the blame for staff cuts in the prison service at the door of the Prison Officers' Association (Letters, 30 January) beggars belief. Mark Leech's references to levels of staff who work with prisoners and the level of pay suggests a poor understanding of the facts. As to the Scottish model, the prison service in Scotland are also cutting staff.

Mr Leech may be the only person in the penal field who supports the Home Secretary's belief that the prison service is overstaffed. He contradicts countless inquiry reports including Woolf and Learmont which contain recommendations that imply staffing increases.

Recent advice sent to governors on reducing costs makes it clear that offender programmes that are known to reduce re-offending are to be cut. Many establishments are proposing to axe their entire probation and education units.

The current budget cuts, combined with the prison population explosion, will result in prisoners spending more time in their cells, and less time on programmes that challenge offending behaviour. That has serious repercussions for the future.


David Evans

General Secretary

Prison Officers' Association

London, N9

1 February