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Safety in Custody and Violence in Prisons

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:39 pm on 9th May 2016.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 3:39 pm, 9th May 2016

This Government are not in denial about the situation, we have not been idle in seeking to address it and we do not lack vision or political will on the issues that the hon. Gentleman has quite rightly raised. I assure him that the Secretary of State takes this issue extremely seriously, and it is our top priority as far as prisons are concerned.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that the work that prison officers do—day in, day out—across our country is, by its very nature, hidden from public view. They are outstanding public servants who do amazingly good work, which, unfortunately, is not seen or perhaps not fully appreciated by most of us as much as it should be.

The nature of the offenders in custody has changed. Today, about 30% more people are sentenced to prison for violent offences, and prisoners often act more spontaneously and more violently to achieve their objectives than they did in the past.

On recruitment, I repeat what I said: we have been recruiting at full strength for the past two years. We have recruited an extra 2,830 officers since 2015, and we are continuing to recruit at that level to make sure that our prisons are adequately staffed.