Prison Officers: Pension Age

Justice – in the House of Commons on 5th July 2022.

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Photo of Mary Foy Mary Foy Labour, City of Durham

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect of the pension age of prison officers on staff (a) recruitment and (b) retention.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The Government are committed to recognising the extraordinary public service carried out by our hard-working prison staff and officers, and to ensuring that we have a modern employment offer that attracts and retains the very best. I am listening to and working with officers, staff and trade unions on all employment matters.

Photo of Mary Foy Mary Foy Labour, City of Durham

The Minister agreed more than six months ago in this place and on a number of other occasions to meet with the professional trades union for prison, correctional and secure psychiatric workers—the Prison Officers Association—to discuss prison officer pension age as a standalone issue. Yet I am informed that that meeting is yet to happen or even to be scheduled. Does the Minister understand that making promises to prison officers and then breaking them is an insult to hundreds of my constituents in Durham, but entirely consistent with the way this Government treat those brave and loyal workers?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this matter. I have in fact met the Prison Officers Association; indeed, I was delighted to attend its conference in Eastbourne a couple of months ago. I note in passing that sadly the Opposition were not able to accept the union’s kind invitation to attend that same conference. In terms of pensions, I am determined to have a good employment offer for all our officers. I will continue to meet the POA union and the other unions that work in our prison estate. I emphasise both to officers and to staff that we want to ensure that the hard work they put in to our prison service is reflected in the coming months in the offer we put to our staff.