With a slew of bad headlines about overcrowding and rising violence inside Britain’s prisons over the past couple of years, you could be forgiven for wondering why anyone would consider a career in the nation’s jails.
But many people do find it important and rewarding work. And the latest figures released by the Ministry of Justice show a major recruitment drive is beginning to pay off, with almost 900 new people signing up since the start of the year.
From January 2017 there has been a net increase of 868 new officers joining the prison service. A further 738 job offers have been made to potential recruits expected to start after June next year.
The government says it is now on schedule to meet a target of recruiting 2,500 new officers by 2018.
“I am delighted to welcome the new prison officers who join thousands of dedicated and hard-working staff undertaking important work to keep our prisons and the public safe,” said Justice Secretary David Lidington.
“Boosting the frontline is critical to achieving safety regimes and I am committed to building on these figures.”
The real problem remains that there are too many prisoners
But prison reform charities have warned the new recruits are barely covering the gaps and the service will continue to struggle in coping with rising prisoner numbers.
“I welcome the fact it seems slowly and finally to be going in the right direction, but it is still very worrying,” Frances Crook, head of the Howard League for Penal Reform told Police Professional.
“The real problem remains that there are too many prisoners,” she said.
“If you did them both at the same time – reduced the number of inmates and increased the number of staff – you would have safe prisons.”
Make sure you get next week’s edition of The Big Issue – on the streets Monday August 21 – for more on efforts being made to reform Britain’s prisons.