Prison officer numbers fall in Lancashire’s jails

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The number of prison officers working in Lancashire’s jails is continuing to fall, worrying statistics have revealed.

Statistics seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform show that there were 1,906 frontline officers (full time equivalent) in prisons in the North West in June 2016. That is down from 1,970 a year earlier.

Across the whole of England and Wales, the number of officers has fallen from 15,110 to 14,689. This leaves prisons with barely more frontline staff than in 2014, which prompted the Ministry of Justice to embark on a major recruitment exercise.

The Howard League says Garth Prison, Leyland, has 190 officers, down from 184; Kirkham 58 (down from 60); Preston 151 (down from 170); and Wymott, Leyland, 186 (down from 190).

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League, 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.”

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Our dedicated prison staff, who support tens of thousands of prisoners every day, are vital to the safe running of our prisons. We have recruited 2,900 staff over the last 12 months and are taking significant action to make sure we have appropriate staffing levels.”