Prison Officers: Older Workers

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 6th September 2018.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the ability of frontline prison staff to work in an operational role when they are over the age of 60.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the ability of people over the age of 55 to pass the fitness test required to be a frontline member of the prison service.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

HMPPS takes very seriously the health and safety of all staff working within prisons.

The Normal Pension Age (NPA) under the Civil Service pension scheme is linked to the individual member’s State Pension Age (SPA) and ranges from 65 to 68, based on their date of birth.

There are many factors which determine a person’s ability to pass a fitness test which could not be determined by their age alone.

Since 2007, when the NPA changed for new entrants to 65 under a Career Average Pension, HMPPS has been recruiting new Prison Officers in England and Wales in their sixties who have passed the fitness test and are performing their roles effectively. In addition, many staff who have the right to retire at 60 choose to work beyond their retirement age.

To become a Prison Officer you must pass a Recruitment Assessment Day (RAD) which consists of literacy and numeracy tests, situational judgment tests and physical and medical tests. These determine your suitability for the role and do not take into account a candidate’s age or gender. There are 4 elements of the fitness test including: grip, agility, bleep and holding a shield. All of these elements need to be passed for the candidate to pass the fitness part of the RAD.

All Prison Officers who joined the service after April 2001 must pass an annual fitness test in order to remain a prison officer. Staff who do not meet the annual fitness test standard will be provided with advice and support by a fitness assessor on achieving and maintaining the required fitness level.

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