The following was issued as a press release by the Prison Officers Association on 13 June, 2014:
The decision by NOMS to further “crowd” the already overcrowded public sector estate by an additional 440 undermines the commitment that prisons will be safe, secure and decent alongside savage cuts to the budget for Criminal Justice. This is in addition to the 900 increased capacity in private prisons as a significant cost to the tax payer
NOMS and the Coalition Government must now accept that their predictions of a reduction in the prison population are wrong. Based on those erroneous predictions 20 prisons have closed and thousands of operational and non – operational staff have been allowed to leave the service under voluntary exit schemes.
NOMS are now unable to reopen closed accommodation within prisons due to their failure to advertise, recruit and train staff once the true extent of the problem became known.
With no appropriate funding being made available in support of these ill – thought out decisions – the 3k per prisoner place is as unacceptable as it is absurd – the prison system is truly in crisis.
The POA take no pleasure in saying that we told you so. It appears that only NOMS and the Coalition Government were unaware or chose to ignore the perfect storm of a rising population, a lack of staff and too few prison cells.
This is tantamount to an abrogation of responsibility by those tasked with the essential protection of the public.
Once again prison staff will have to deal with the consequences of the fiasco in the management of the Criminal Justice System. When will politicians recognise the contribution made by our members in the essential protection of the public?
So that no one is in any doubt we hereby place on record that if NOMS and the Coalition Government will not protect prison staff and the prisoners in our care the POA will.
What is it to be then, cuts or the essential protection of the public and all who work and live within the Criminal Justice System?
On behalf of the National Executive Committee.