Prison officers set for £5,000 pay boost amid service strain

20 Feb 17

Justice secretary Liz Truss has announced an immediate pay hike of up to £5,000 for prison officers at 31 jails across London and the South East in order to tackle a crisis that has seen an increase in violence and disturbances.

Truss announced the immediate increase for frontline staff in prisons including Pentonville, Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs in order to retain and recruit staff. She had already announced plans to hire a further 2,500 officers in order to improve safety at prisons.

Under new pay plans, prison officers at the 31 establishments will see a pay boost of up to £5,000, with new recruits receiving higher starting salaries. New starters will receive up to £29,500 – an increase of £5,000 – while a prison officer in London could see earnings increase to £31,000.

The increase comes amid a 1% pay freeze in place across the public sector, which has been in place since 2012.
However, Truss said the immediate rise was needed for frontline staff to know their work, experience and loyal service is valued.

“These hard-working, dedicated staff are key to delivering our ambitious reform agenda, and it is right that we offer them greater support as we move ever closer to transforming prisons into places of safety and reform,” she stated.
The new award replaces existing pay increments for staff at the prisons where recruitment is deemed a significant problem. In addition, governors at 30 institutions have been given greater freedom and flexibility to attract and recruit locally, in a move intended to cut the time it takes to recruit.

In an update on the new staff, the Ministry of Justice said that 389 job offers have been made to new recruits wanting to join the Prison Service, with the first 400 of the additional frontline officers set to be in place by March 2017.

Prison suicide rates are at a record high, with 119 self-inflicted deaths in 2016 – 29 more than the previous year. According to MoJ figures, there were also 37,784 self-harm incidents, a record high, and 25,049 assault incidents.

However, responding to the announcement, the Prison Officers Association said the pay move was “placing a plaster over a gaping wound”.

In a statement it said: “This decision will not solve the recruitment and retention issue, nor bring about operational stability in a prison system that is in meltdown.

“Whilst any additional pay for our members is welcome the latest policy decision direct from the secretary of state sees another divisive decision on pay, which will enrage many who are left unaffected by this latest announcement.”

The full list of prisons where staff will receive the pay boost are: Aylesbury; Bedford; Bullingdon; Coldingley; Cookham Wood; Downview; Elmley; Feltham; Grendon; High Down; Highpoint; Huntercombe; Medway; Send; Stanford Hill; Swaleside; The Mount; Woodhill; Brixton; Belmarsh; Isis; Pentonville; Rochester; Wandsworth; Wormwood Scrubs; Erlestoke; Lewes; Whitemoor; Chelmsford; Guys Marsh; and Littlehey.

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