Prison Service: Labour Turnover

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 28th October 2020.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on retention of experienced prison staff of the fitness test.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Staff retention is monitored through a number of local and national processes. A retention programme is in place which reviews data and trends of staff leavers and uses exit interviews to understand the reasons for attrition.

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. Staff have three attempts to pass before a decision will be required on the individuals’ future which may mean dismissal on medical grounds or re-grading. Over the last five years 0.12% of all fitness tests undertaken have resulted in a third test failure.

Following a review of the fitness test in 2017, a new reasonably adjusted test (the Chester treadmill walking test) was introduced which replaced the standard bleep test for staff with lower limb injuries. The bleep test pass level for specialist P.E officers was also reduced as result of this review.

There are a number of other reasons affecting staff retention including resignations, retirement and ill-health. The retention programme is linked to wider activities including employee experience, employee lifecycle and staff engagement at work to support retention.

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