A RECRUITMENT drive of prison officers will not be enough even to replace those who have left in the past year, new figures revealed yesterday.
Justice Secretary Liz Truss was forced to announce the recruitment of new staff after recent rises in violence and suicide rates and even rioting in several jails.
Initially 400 officers will be deployed to Britain’s toughest jails — with a further 2,100 promised as part of a five-year plan.
But new figures from the National Offender Management Service reveal a sharp drop of 585 front-line prison officers over just 12 months.
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said: “The Tories’ much-hyped recruitment drive is already looking in trouble.
Last month the Justice Secretary promised 400 extra staff in prisons, but even that fails to make up for the fall in front-line prison officers over the past year.
“Even ministers now acknowledge a staffing crisis has developed on their watch, but instead of tackling it they’ve let the situation deteriorate further.”
Over 6,000 prison jobs have been lost since the Tories took office in 2010. Prison Officers’ Association chairman Mike Rolfe said numbers would need to be restored to 2010 levels “just to have any chance of turning round current crisis” in the system.
“People are leaving in their droves,” he told the Star. “This follows the warnings we’ve been giving for a long period of time.
He said the POA was still in negotiations with Ms Truss, and had given her an “ultimatum” to offer a solution to the crisis by today.