Increase of 2,699 since October 2016
Yesterday (22 April 2018) as London runners were pounding the streets in unseasonable sunshine, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service published a one-off recruitment management information release to trumpet the fact that the MoJ had reached its target of recruiting an extra 2,500 frontline officers (to replace those lost through austerity cut backs) seven months ahead of schedule.
The accompanying press release claims a net increase of 3,111 prison officers between October 2016 and March 2018 although HMPPS is putting the absolute best gloss on the figures since this number apparently includes those in training and those performing “operational support roles” pending the start of their training.
I can’t quite make the figures add up since the press release claims that the stats show an
“additional 2,699 prison officers on landings or in Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) since October 2016, while a further 255 are performing operational support roles pending the start of their training.”
This adds up to 2,954 (not 3,111) new staff, and clearly some existing staff will have left by the time the latest cohort have completed their training.
Unlike regular workforce bulletins, the current information release doesn’t provide the full range of data including, for example, the rate at which prison officers are leaving the service. This stood at 9.7% when the last “proper” statistics were issued two months ago (15 February 2018).
Nevertheless, HMPPS has to be commended for recruiting so many staff in such a short period of time. However, cliche it may be, but, as recent prison inspections continue to show, the goal to staff our prisons properly with sufficient committed and able men and women to make them safe again remains a marathon, not a sprint.