Prison Officers: Working Conditions

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 2nd May 2018.

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Photo of Gordon Henderson Gordon Henderson Conservative, Sittingbourne and Sheppey 11:00 am, 2nd May 2018

I welcome that intervention, and I will talk about that issue later in my speech.

I met my local police chief inspector, who happens to be a very small woman, and she said that, without PAVA, she would not be able to do her job on the beat. Between November 2017 and February 2018, HMP Bedford recorded 23 assaults on staff, of which two were classified as serious; whereas, HMP Preston, which has a larger prison population, recorded just eight assaults on staff, of which one was classified as serious. It cannot be a coincidence that, during that period, officers in Preston were issued with PAVA, but those in Bedford were not. The use of PAVA seems to be a no-brainer. I urge the Minister to roll out its use and issue PAVA to all prison officers in all prisons without delay. I would also like to see made available to prison officers rigid handcuffs, radios and body-worn video cameras.

The environment in our prisons gives rise to another big concern. Unlike police officers and firefighters, prison officers have to work until they are 66 years old. Over time, that will increase to 68.