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Prisons and Courts Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 20th March 2017.

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Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 4:20 pm, 20th March 2017

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we have a programme to recruit 2,500 additional officers across the estate. I can confirm that we started in 10 of the most challenging prisons. We have now successfully secured the complement of officers in those first 10 prisons, which we said we would do by the end of March. We now have a record number of officers—over 700—in training. I do not deny it is a challenging task to recruit those officers, but as the right hon. Gentleman knows from his experience as prisons Minister, it is vital that we do that, because it is only by having qualified and skilled officers that we will help to turn people’s lives around.

I am not just interested in numbers; I am also interested in the career prospects and additional training that we give officers. That is why we are putting in an additional 2,000 senior officer posts across the country. Those will pay upward of £30,000, and they will reward officers who have additional training in areas such as mental health. As the right hon. Gentleman realises, it takes time to recruit and train those officers, but I am absolutely determined to do that, because, alongside these reforms, it is trained officers who will make the difference in our prisons.