Prisons: planning and policies - Justice Contents

3  Benchmarking and prison staffing

60. The other key part of the Government's approach to achieving efficiencies across the prison estate is the public sector benchmarking programme (also known as the prison unit cost programme). In this chapter we examine the reasoning behind this approach, how it has been implemented, and the context in which it is operating. In relation to the latter we consider in particular, why there is currently a shortage of staff, and the impact this has had on progress in applying designated benchmarks. The contracting out of non-core public sector prison services is discussed in Chapter Four.

The rationale for benchmarking

61. Explaining his decision to replace the planned prison privatisation programme with public sector benchmarking and contracting out of ancillary services in 2012, the Secretary of State for Justice proposed that the public sector could duplicate commercial models which have addressed the challenge of increased cost pressures and demand for lower prices and delivered better quality services with a lower cost base.[127] In this context, the Government's intention under the second element of its cost reduction programme was to introduce in publicly-run prisons more efficient ways of working, whilst maintaining safety, decency, security and order. Phil Wheatley, an architect of this approach when he was Director of NOMS, gave us this down to earth description of benchmarking models of practice: "…we were looking at the most efficient way of doing everything, observing it somewhere, saying, "Hey, that works," and then telling everybody else to do it that way."[128]

62. Witnesses were generally supportive of the rationale of benchmarking as a means of reducing expenditure on the operation of the prison estate quickly.[129] Not surprisingly both the Prison Governors' Association and the Prison Officers' Association welcomed the decision largely to substitute public sector reform for the privatisation programme, and our evidence suggests that they have worked closely with NOMS to implement it.[130] While private sector providers continue to advocate competition as a means of improving performance, G4S, Serco and Sodexo saw value in benchmarking as a means of standardising more efficient and effective regimes.[131] The Government has not excluded the possibility of further prison-by-prison competition in the future.[132]

The implementation of benchmarking

63. To apply the benchmarks NOMS has devised what it describes as 'new ways of working', involving changes to both the prison regime and staffing complements. Modifications include: changes to the core day; maximising opportunities for prisoners to be in purposeful activities, with staff following prisoners; less time for structured association; and fewer layers of management. A phased approach has been taken to implementation, with the adult male estate being benchmarked first (from October 2013), followed by the high security estate, women's estate and young offender institutions (from March 2014). This approach was welcomed by Mr Hardwick, but he emphasised the importance of learning lessons from the implementation of the first phase to ensure that the problems experienced do not reoccur, particularly as the prisons benchmarked in the later phase contained more vulnerable and risky populations.[133]

64. Staffing represents the bulk of ongoing prison costs.[134] A key consequence of benchmarking is that public sector prisons will be operating with a smaller staff. NOMS estimated that the savings required would be facilitated by around five per cent of prison service staff taking voluntary redundancy in 2013/14.[135] Mr Wheatley highlighted the risks of benchmarking being too "gung-ho" and ending up with staffing levels that are too tight.[136] We consider in the next section the extent to which difficulties have arisen from some of those risks.

65. We agree with most witnesses to our inquiry that the benchmarking of prisons to develop more efficient regimes is in principle an effective way of reducing expenditure more rapidly than would be possible through prison-by-prison competition. We also support the phased approach to the implementation of benchmarking which NOMS has adopted.

The impact of efficiency savings

The impact on prison performance

66. The intention of benchmarking is to streamline what prisons do while maintaining, and where possible raising, standards.[137] Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons uses a four part healthy prison test to determine its assessment of the performance of individual prisons. The outcome of these tests for the prisons inspected in the last 10 years is set out in table 1 below. This illustrates that outcomes for the period after the implementation of benchmarking in October 2013 in local and category C prisons in the adult male estate were considerably lower than the previous 12 months and at any point in the last 10 years.

Table 1: Percentage of prisons and young offender institutions assessed as 'good' or 'reasonably good' in full inspections 2005-06 to 2014-15
Published reports (%)
2005-06 2006-072007-08 2008-092009-10 2010-112011-12 2012-132013-14 Inspected November 2013-Mar 2014 Published 2014-15
Safety75 5769 7278 8482 8069 42
Respect65 6369 6976 7473 7367 58
Purposeful activity 4853 6571 6869 7350 6142
Resettlement68 6275 7576 7184 6475 53

Source: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Annual Report 2013-14

Note: Benchmarking was not applied in young offender institutions until the second phase which commenced in March 2014.

The Ministry's own performance ratings of prisons, which used to be published quarterly, are now annual and are not yet available for much of the period in question. Nevertheless, according to the most recent scores, the performance of almost a quarter (23 per cent) of prisons was of concern, or of serious concern in 2013-14.[138] This compared to 14 per cent and 2 per cent respectively in the previous two years.[139] The views of Independent Monitoring Boards on the state of prisons expressed in the annual reports which they are required to submit to the Secretary of State have generally accorded with those of HM Inspectorate of Prisons.[140]


67. The Ministry also publishes data on safety in custody which includes indicators on the level of assaults, self-harm, and self-inflicted deaths, for example. Table 2 shows that self-inflicted deaths have been rising since 2011 (a 45% increase over the last four years) and rose particularly sharply in the last two years (38% between 2012 and 2014).

Table 2: Deaths in custody by apparent cause, January 2011 to September 2014
2011 20122013 2014
Natural Causes122 123131 141
Self-Inflicted58 6175 84
Homicide2 04 3

Sources: PPP62; PPP65 [Ministry of Justice]

Table 3 illustrates that both incidents of assaults (by prisoners against other prisoners and staff) and incidents of self-harm have risen by 7.1% and 9% respectively over the last two years.[141]

Table 3: Assault and Self-Harm Incidents, January 2011 to June 2014
2011 20122013 *2014
AssaultsJanuary 1,1721,299 1,1471,266
February 1,1751,200 1,0811,168
March 1,3001,285 1,1281,291
April 1,2221,172 1,1811,310
May 1,3001,305 1,2961,380
June 1,3911,179 1,1411,336
July 1,4051,249 1,3541,452
August 1,3791,257 1,3211,382
September 1,2271,200 1,1931,356
October 1,2431,248 1,327*
November 1,2831,105 1,251*
December 1,2931,012 1,244*
Total 15,44014,511 14,66411,941
Self-HarmJanuary 2,0942,030 1,7811,875
February 1,9111,845 1,674 1,774
March 2,2291,964 1,9472,111
April 2,1421,934 1,9322,101
May 2,2421,868 2,0932,148
June 1,9831,834 2,028 2,201
July 2,0182,094 2,1252,354
August 2,0631,973 2,0872,133
September 2,0321,829 1,7592,273
October 2,0382,028 1,861*
November 2,0112,001 1,908*
December 1,8851,758 1,978*
Total 24,64823,158 23,17418,971

Source: PPP62 [MoJ]; PPP65 [MoJ] * Data from 2014 relates only from the period January to September

68. The Government uses the term 'concerted indiscipline' to describe incidents of prison disorder.[142] There has been recent speculation that conditions in prisons were such that there had been, or was likely to be, a rise in such incidents.[143] In July 2014 we were told there had been an increase in minor incidents such as 'incidents at height' where prisoners "climb up on to the netting in order to try to secure a transfer to a different prison."[144] In a Written Answer of 9 December 2014, Mr Selous explained that incidents vary widely in nature and duration; many are relatively minor and of short duration and cause little disruption to the prison regime.[145] Nevertheless, the table below illustrates that the number of incidents has doubled since 2012, and the average number of incidents per month has gone from 11 in the year before benchmarking and changes to the IEP scheme were introduced to 16 in the year after.[146] There was a notable rise in incidents in the last three months for which figures are available.

Table 4: Incidents of Concerted Indiscipline, January 2011 to September 2014
2011 20122013 2014
January 11 48 10
February 0 66 8
March 6 1212 13
April13 1018 18
May14 1113 17
June12 415 16
July10 510 23
August18 614 22
September9 99 26
October 5 1015 *
November11 615 *
December5 1112 *
Total114 94147 153

Source: PPP 62 [Ministry of Justice]

Only a very small number of incidents are serious enough to require external support from specialist intervention teams, such as Operation Tornado, and the number of such interventions had not increased by the end of September 2014.[147]


69. NOMS' intention was to preserve a focus on real work and purposeful activity under its benchmarked regime.[148] Our evidence suggests that broadly speaking this has not been achieved. The Chief Inspector of Prisons' assessment was that access to purposeful activity had "plummeted".[149] Provision for purposeful activity was judged to be adequate in only two-fifths of prisons inspected between November 2013 and March 2014, the lowest level in the last nine years.[150]

70. We heard two main explanations for the reduction in access to education and training. First, there was a shortage of officers to escort prisoners to learning activities as priority was given to other tasks (such as escorting out of the prison and incident response), and, secondly, there were too few education and training places for the number of prisoners held.[151] In relation to the former, we heard examples from the Chairs of the Independent Monitoring Boards of HMP Belmarsh and Wormwood Scrubs of prisoners having to choose between having showers and making phone calls or going to education.[152] Various HM Inspectorate of Prisons reports indicate that access to libraries had also diminished due to staff shortages.[153] We also heard that a narrower range of learning provision had been procured under the most recent Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) competition process, and there had been a lack of capital investment in facilities for activities.[154]

71. A4E, one of the contractors for the provision of prison-based learning and skills, withdrew in August 2014 from its contract for 12 London prisons allegedly because it was no longer able to run the contract at a profit due to unspecified constraints.[155] A4E had submitted written evidence to our inquiry prior to the announcement, but it did not cover this matter. We heard that activity provision had been adversely affected while an alternative provider was found.[156] Due to the lack of availability of prison staff to escort prisoners to classes, teaching staff from some members of the Association of Colleges—which represents and promotes the interest of colleges, some of which are providers of offender learning and skills services—had been given the responsibility of moving prisoners themselves.[157]


72. Rehabilitation programmes and effective offender management processes have also suffered in other ways: prisoners have been unable to access offending behaviour courses, or have been moved because of population pressures to another prison without having completed them, and, as we have noted, there is a high volume of backlogs in risk assessments.


73. Nigel Newcomen, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, told us that his office had experienced between 2013 and 2014 a 35 per cent increase in complaints from prisoners, including a 50 per cent increase in complaints about regimes.[158] He observed: "Where, for example, statutory entitlements have been lost—access to fresh air, the library, the statutory gym—as part of a poorly implemented benchmarking process, clearly the real-life experience for prisoners on wings is suffering quite considerably, and that is percolating through to my office in terms of complaints."[159] Evidence from the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) and the Prisoners' Advice Service reinforced that the nature of inquiries to their services had changed. For calls to the PRT helpline, prisoners wanting to transfer prisons remained the top concern in the 2013-14 period, as it had been in previous years. On the other hand, the second most common subject of complaint was the new IEP scheme; this had not previously been an issue.[160] Long standing issues of mental health and housing no longer featured in the top five concerns, but the volume of complaints about changes to the release on temporary licence scheme and conditions of post-release licences had increased. We heard from several representatives of Independent Monitoring Boards, including the President of the National Council of Independent Monitoring Boards, who together provided a picture of deteriorating standards in terms of staffing levels, resulting in less prisoner to staff contact, less surveillance, and less access to purposeful activity.[161]

74. Anecdotal evidence from Deborah Russo of the Prisoners' Advice Service (PAS) indicated that there had been a notable increase in prisoner complaints regarding safety, and increased requests for safety interventions. PAS also said prisoners had difficulties in getting to healthcare appointments outside the prison (as escorts are required) resulting in delayed treatment.[162] The Zahid Mubarek Trust, which scrutinises equalities-related complaints in London prisons, and the Archbishops Council of the Church of England said that access to chaplaincy services had also diminished.[163] We discuss the complaints system more fully in Chapter Four.

75. All available indicators, including those recorded by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and NOMS itself, are pointing towards a rapid deterioration in standards of safety and levels of performance over the last year or so. Most concerning to us is that since 2012 there has been a 38% rise in self-inflicted deaths, a 9% rise in self-harm, a 7% rise in assaults, and 100% rise in incidents of concerted indiscipline. Complaints to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and other sources have risen. There are fewer opportunities for rehabilitation, including diminished access to education, training, libraries, religious leaders, and offending behaviour courses.

Explanatory factors for the deterioration in performance

76. A multitude of theories has been advanced about what has contributed to the deteriorations in levels of safety and purposeful activity, and rising numbers of complaints. In his annual report for 2013-14, the Chief Inspector of Prisons concluded that "it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the conjunction of resource, population and policy pressures, particularly in the second half of 2013-14 and particularly in adult male prisons, was a very significant factor."[164] In his evidence to us he clarified what he meant by policy pressures, pointing to the recent changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges and Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) schemes, as well as the general "pace of change that is being applied to prison managers."[165] We discuss these two policies in detail in Chapter Four.

77. Many of our witnesses supported Mr Hardwick's view that staffing levels and changes to the prison regime, including the IEP scheme, were causative factors in the decline in safety, although it was noted that reasons for each of the areas of decline were likely to differ; for instance, those behind suicide were different from those behind self-harm, and the factors behind those were different from the concern about prison violence.[166] The Government attributed operational issues and subsequent adverse outcomes to several other factors, including unexpected and extreme population pressures, increases in the use of legal highs, and a broader increase in suicide rates.[167] We consider here the extent to which the situation can be attributed to prisons policies, or other factors beyond the Government's control.


78. We received evidence of some modifications to regimes that could contribute to a reduction in safety, however unintentionally. Regime restrictions can affect levels of violence in two ways: they can contribute to greater violence, but conversely they can operate as a protective factor as prisoners are unable to mix as frequently with others. Angela Levin of the Wormwood Scrubs IMB believed that increases in suicide, a "huge increase" in self-harm and a 50% increase in violence were due to the length of time prisoners were spending in their cells and the lack of capacity of staff to monitor them.[168] For example, at Wormwood Scrubs more prisoners were now sharing cells, including three to a cell in some cases.[169] The British Psychological Society explained that reduced purposeful activity and changes in regime have a potentially destabilising effect for those with mental health issues, including propensity to self-harm.[170]

79. Several of those giving evidence attributed increased complaints and the changing nature of them to restrictions, changes and alterations to regimes. The Prisoners' Advice Service had received an increase in complaints from prisoners who feared for their safety.[171] In relation to the changes to IEP which mean people begin sentences on a basic regime, Dr Edgar was concerned that the first period of custody was a high-risk time for suicide and self-harm and that this might make that period of adjustment more difficult and put them at greater risk. [172] This might be compounded by staffing changes which meant that access to the telephone at night, for example, to call the Samaritans, had been restricted.[173] Other policy changes had also caused concern, for example, safer custody reports related to the management of prisoners at risk of harm to themselves, to others and from others were now less detailed and, according to Angela Levin, risked giving the wrong impression of the severity of incidents.[174]


80. Phil Wheatley emphasised the importance of continued interaction between staff and prisoners and getting the balance right in levels of staffing:

    "…we need enough staff time to interact with prisoners. It is not just time out of cell; you can give prisoners a lot of time out of cell but not interact with them very much, and they will behave like they would on a street corner, if you don't watch it."[175]

We heard that the time and opportunity that staff and prisoners had to build these important relationships might be jeopardised under new ways of working. The Prison Officers' Association stated that day-to-day communication between prisoner and officer was rapidly diminishing, with an inevitably detrimental impact upon security and safety.[176] We consider the role of the modern-day prison officer further in Chapter 4 of this Report.

81. Getting this balance right is important for preserving dynamic security, an approach to prison safety based on the relationship between staff and prisoners. In part, it means that everyone who works in prison has a responsibility for security and control. In practice however, 'dynamic security' means that staff should mix with prisoners and talk and listen to them while remaining alert to the atmosphere and potential for incidents. 'Static security' includes measures where perimeter fences, bars, gates, and the use of CCTV, for example, prevent or manage prisoner movement. This could reduce the need for staff and prisoners to spend time in close contact with each other. Examples of this include strengthening security to prevent drugs being thrown over the fence, and the use of body-worn cameras.[177] Both forms of security are necessary but when staffing levels are reduced the balance between the two must be carefully managed.

82. We heard that under benchmarking prison officers would no longer permanently be assigned to one wing. Instead, they would become 'troubleshooters' and would go to wherever a difficulty arose, which could be three different wings on one day, for example.[178] Knowledge of prisoners on the wing is vital in maintaining safety as officers can sense when a prisoner might be prone to violence and can calm them down, or identify signs of self-harming.[179] Dr Kimmett Edgar, who has conducted research on violence reduction in prison, pointed out that there was strength in numbers in terms of maintaining safety:

    Officers can prevent fights by intervening and confronting the use of threats and verbal abuse-but to do this, they need sufficient numbers. In particular, it takes guts to confront someone who is aggressive; and if an officer is on her own on a landing, (s)he will be far less confident about intervening.[180]

83. Prison officers' knowledge of prisoners on their wings was also important in dealing proportionately with matters that might escalate. For example, the Zahid Mubarek Trust emphasised that 'wing banter' might be mistaken for discriminatory behaviour and lead to a disproportionate reaction.[181]


84. Between 31 March 2010 and 30 June 2014 the number of full-time equivalent staff in public sector prisons fell by 28 per cent, a reduction of 12,530 staff.[182] The prisoner to staff ratio has risen from 3.8 in September 2010 to 4.9 in September 2014.[183] Staff turnover in public sector prisons has doubled since 2010/11.

Table 5: National Offender Management Service total workforce and leavers by financial year since 2009-10
12 months endingNumber of Leavers (headcount) Workforce (headcount) Turnover
31 March 103,680 51,2107%
31 March 113,470 49,2107%
31 March 123,560 45,5808%
31 March 133,760 42,7209%
31 March 145,470 37,22015%

Source: National Offender Management Service workforce statistics

Recent figures are more equivalent to turnover in the private sector. For example, at Serco it is between 5 and 15 per cent on average. Some turnover was to be expected under the benchmarking and estate rationalisation programme, under which both re-deployment of staff, following prison closures, and redundancies would be required. NOMs anticipated a 5 per cent reduction in staff under benchmarking, for example, and put in place a voluntary exit scheme to facilitate the necessary redundancies.


85. It is difficult to disentangle definitively the causal factors for staffing shortages. Our witnesses have suggested several to us, including: NOMS allowing too many staff, or too many experienced staff, to leave through voluntary redundancy arrangements; staff resigning; imposed freezes on recruitment, orchestrated at a national rather than local level; and high sickness rates.[184] The Secretary of State attributed staffing problems to an unanticipated rise in the prison population and a more buoyant labour market in some parts of the country. He saw these as routine difficulties associated with the ebbs and flows of a large workforce.[185]

86. The trend towards lower staffing levels is not solely related to benchmarking. It is present in the youth and adult estate, including in the private sector, and the decline began in 2010.[186] Most recently patterns in the predominant reasons for staff leaving the Prison Service have changed: in the year to September 2014, of the 3,400 staff who left (representing 11% of staff), 24% resigned, 15% retired, and 17% took voluntary redundancy. In the previous year these figures, relating to 5,300 departures, were 16%, 14% and 50% respectively.[187]

87. The fact that resignation features more highly than redundancy in the last year supports other evidence which indicates that some staff have left due to increased dissatisfaction with the conditions in which they have been expected to work. The pressure placed on those operational and management personnel that have continued to work in prisons has had a considerable impact on them.[188] As well as higher staff turnover, we received evidence of low staff morale and higher sickness rates, partially explained by work-related stress.[189] Prior to the introduction of benchmarking public sector prisons had already gone through reforms to implement more affordable staffing structures, including new pay and conditions, under the Fair and Sustainable Programme.[190] The Prison Reform Trust noted that this, followed by benchmarking and changes to operational policies that would be challenging to implement had "heaped pressure" on governors and staff alike.[191] Difficulties in operating regimes have been particularly severe during the holiday season.[192] They have also been exacerbated by the need to release staff for detached duty which we consider in paragraphs109 to 111. The POA representative at HMP Isis, which had particularly severe staff shortages, described the poor working conditions he had experienced: "Acts of violence, be it prisoner-on-prisoner or prisoner-on-staff, have gone through the roof. The staff feel that they have little support by the [Crown Prosecution Service], as crimes committed against prisoners or other staff do not seem to lead anywhere. It just seems that the whole system is in a bit of a mess. I have been in the service eight years and this is by far the worst I have experienced in that time."[193]

88. Several witnesses paid tribute to those that had kept regimes running to the extent that they had. Stephen O'Connell said:

    Over the last six months, as staffing has reduced and regimes have had to be restricted in a number of prisons, frequently it is prison governors at every level who are stepping in to try to ensure that things happen with prison officers. It would be easy to think that in that situation it is somehow the prison's fault, but actually in those prisons governors, their senior management teams and their staff are working extremely long hours to keep going even restricted regimes, which often are not good enough by most of the measures we use now... [194]

Steve Gillan of the Prison Officers' Association similarly spoke of the "massive impact" the cost reduction exercise had had on staff: "It is prison officers who are picking up the pieces, under difficult circumstances."[195]

89. The impact on staff has undoubtedly affected retention levels. Research carried out by the University of Bedfordshire for the Prison Officers' Association examining the pension age of prison officers has found that they are at high risk of emotional and physical stress and exhaustion: 60 per cent of staff sampled were considering leaving the Prison Sector in the near future.[196] A significant proportion of staff are retired from the service each year on medical grounds.[197] A larger scale survey of staff engagement conducted by NOMS, to which 44 per cent of Prison Service staff responded, found that: 53 per cent of staff feel they have the effective tools to do their job; 52 per cent feel that they work in a safe environment; 21 per cent feel that their pay adequately reflects the their performance; only the same proportion feel the prison service is well managed; and 42 per cent were positive about their workload.

90. Michael Spurr acknowledged that the pressured conditions that prison staff were working under had contributed to low morale:

    …The vast majority of staff responding are Prison Service staff going through a major change programme with the closure of 16 prisons, changing terms and conditions, effectively freezing pay, even on top of the civil service pay freezes, for the majority of prison officers and reducing numbers.[198]

He welcomed the fact that the majority (70 per cent) of staff had accepted new terms and conditions and that the trade unions were supportive of their approach, and emphasised that NOMS was working hard to engage staff through a difficult process.[199] For example, staff had access to a welfare service, available 24 hours a day.[200]

91. Mr Spurr did not believe staffing problems could have been foreseen:

    …while we had very good plans to be able to deliver the savings we were hit by external events… specifically…the increase in the prison population [in autumn 2013]. That…created much more pressure than we had anticipated and…required us to have more staff than we had planned for. The difficulties in recruiting those staff, particularly in the south-east, have created significant pressure for us. I think that pressure was at its height through the end of last year and into the summer of this year, and it is beginning to recede as we are able to recruit the staff that we need."[201]

The increase in the prison population was in part driven by an increase in people being sentenced for historic sexual offences: the so-called "Savile effect", alongside an increase in the remand population.[202] When we put to Mr Spurr the point that the population growth was within projected assumptions, he explained that it had gone over the level predicted, but in any case NOMS planned to accommodate the central forecast.

92. NOMS workforce statistics do not appear to corroborate the Government's assertion that staffing problems are confined to the adult estate, and to the South East of England.[203] It is true that the degree of understaffing has varied by prison. In June 2014 there were 32,550 prison staff in post across the whole public sector estate.[204] At that time, 83 prisons had been benchmarked, and among them there were 2,481 vacancies below the 'target staffing figure', comprising 415 prison officers, 353 operational support staff, and 1,723 instructors, administrative and support staff.[205] At this time only 7 of those 83 prisons were operating at their full complement of staff; some prisons in the East of England and Yorkshire and Humber were operating with over 70 too few staff.[206] On the other hand, 16 per cent of staff who left in the year to September 2014 were from the high security and young people's estates. While the more buoyant labour market in parts of the country might have resulted in problems with recruitment, it does not appear to have contributed disproportionately to retention: staff in Greater London and the South East represent 15.7 per cent of the workforce, which corresponds closely to the fact that staff from these areas comprised 15.2 per cent of leavers.[207] It is also important to note that difficulties retaining staff do not solely relate to the public sector. For example, the attrition rate was higher than average at HMP Thameside (at between 10 and 20 per cent) due to the number of staff recruited when it opened who subsequently decided prison work was not for them.[208] On the other hand, private sector prisons are able to develop their own plans for recruitment and retention, including recruiting staff directly.[209]

93. Cuts to prison budgets have resulted in changes to regimes which mean that prisoners are now routinely locked up for longer. The Government has been successful in rapidly reducing costs, but because staff are not at their full benchmarked complement it is not possible to assess whether that cost reduction will make regimes in public sector prisons more effective, or whether safety levels can be restored to their previous level. Detrimental impacts on prisoners and staff are unquantified but they are likely to have financial consequences, and it is possible that the level of cuts imposed might prove to be a false economy.

94. A quarter of the staff who have left the Prison Service in the year to September 2014 resigned. NOMS ought to have foreseen that major reductions in staffing, less favourable pay and conditions of employment, and significant changes to prison regimes, would lead to a rise in people opting to leave the Prison Service, regardless of the buoyancy of the external labour market. This underlines the importance of retention as well as recruitment. As NOMS is highly dependent on its staff to run well-functioning prisons, and it is important that the Service acts rapidly on the evidence of recent surveys to ensure that staff feel valued and are given appropriate support to work in circumstances which are challenging at the best of times, but currently particularly pressured. Given the importance of relationships between prisoners and prison staff we do not believe that making further detrimental changes to terms and conditions of staff is sustainable as a means of controlling costs if the prison population continues to rise.


95. The Secretary of State told us that the number of assaults in prison had fallen.[210] Whilst this may be true over the entire period of this Government, NOMS' own figures indicate that there was an increase of 10 per cent in assaults in the year to the end of June 2014, and a parallel rise in the rate of assaults per 1,000 prisoners, indicating that this is not accounted for by the rise in the prison population.[211] Serious assaults have increased by 32 per cent over the same period. Mr Grayling did acknowledge to us that assaults on staff had risen, reversing earlier reductions; he wished to see them being treated more seriously by the Crown Prosecution Service.[212]


96. At an evidence session on the work of the Secretary of State in July 2014, Mr Grayling attributed the rise in self-inflicted deaths in prisons to a "broader social challenge" of rising suicide rates in society.[213] At a subsequent evidence session, he indicated that he had been referring to suicide rates among the "community in the justice system", and to young men in particular.[214] He reiterated that there was no clear pattern to explain the rise:

    Sometimes it is the case that you get upward ticks in the suicide rate for which there is no obvious explanation. We have looked very hard to see whether there is a common factor in the suicides we have seen in prisons. They have taken place in prisons where there have been staff reductions. They have taken place in prisons where there have been no staff reductions. They have taken place in prisons where we have seen excellent inspection reports. We have seen suicides in places where there have been poor inspection reports. Parc, for example, in south Wales, which is run by G4S and therefore has not been affected by the benchmarking changes…is regarded by the prison inspector as one of the best prisons in the estate…It has had three suicides. Every one of these is tragic; every one of these is to be regretted. I am pleased that the number has settled back down again. I hope upon hope that it continues to be so, and we will work very hard to that effect.[215]


97. The increased prevalence of so-called legal highs (new psychoactive substances) was raised by several witnesses, and they partially attributed to it the rise in levels of violence in prisons.[216] Mandatory drug testing has shown illegal drug use in prisons has gone down over the last 20 years, with the proportion of prisoners testing positive falling from 24 per cent in 1996/97 to just over 7 per cent in 2013/14. Seizures of substances such as Spice, however, have risen from 133 in 2012 to 430 in 2014.[217] Early on in our inquiry we heard some speculation that the prevalence of drug use might rise due to limitations on staff time to facilitate testing and cell inspections as a result of benchmarking.[218] Dr Edgar also said: "If you appreciate that currently there are more people dealing drugs on wings than there are prison officers, you can understand that there is potential for wings to become criminogenic—to become areas in which crime flourishes."[219] After we concluded taking evidence in our inquiry the Government announced a "crackdown" on legal highs in prison, including extending powers to mandatory drug test for them.[220] The use of mandatory drug testing for those substances for which testing is already permitted fell by 14 per cent between 2011/12 and 2013/14.[221]


98. The Government stressed the fact that there is a more challenging mix of prisoners than before as a key explanation for operational problems and deteriorating outcomes.[222] Their line was supported by prison governors and directors.[223] Mr O'Connell acknowledged that the prison population changes, with resulting challenges in violence management, had occurred alongside staffing and population pressures.[224] Other witnesses felt that violence reduction measures had weakened. Andrew Neilson said that Inspectorate reports were indicating that good violence reduction strategies and procedures had ebbed away.[225]

99. In June 2014 the Inspectorate itself published a review of progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the public inquiry undertaken after Zahid Mubarek, a 19 year old of Pakistani descent, was tragically killed by his racist cell mate in Feltham Young Offenders' Institution.[226] The Inspectorate reported that new systems and processes had been put in place and that electronic case records had made sharing and using information easier, but the implementation of recommendations had been inconsistent. The reduction in homicides in prison since 2000 is viewed as coinciding with the introduction of cell-sharing risk assessment, but in the last year there were four cases, the highest number since 1998. The Inspectorate warned that there was a danger that with the passage of time, the drive that led to the introduction of risk assessments had weakened, and the issues that the Zahid Mubarek inquiry highlighted have not been given a high enough priority now that the Prison Service's resources had been cut. For example, racist bullying on a significant scale was still found in young offender institutions. Imtiaz Amin, the uncle of Zahid Mubarek, who founded the Zahid Mubarek Trust which examines equalities measures in prisons in London, told us that dedicated staffing for equalities had reduced considerably.[227] These responsibilities had been subsumed into other roles, with the potential for equalities not to be afforded sufficient priority.[228] Furthermore, safer custody staff reportedly have less time to meet for mutual support and information sharing.[229]

Approaches to efficiency in the private sector

100. There are 14 private prisons contractually managed by one of three private companies: Sodexo Justice Services, Serco and G4S Justice Services. It is important to note that private sector providers have not been protected from cuts entirely; NOMS has negotiated with them to revise contracts to reduce their costs, including to reduce staffing levels, as well as to increase operational capacity.[230] Jerry Petherick of G4S saw this as a proper means of controlling expenditure but valued the contractual method as a way of protecting prisoners and contractors and their staff because of the certainty it provides about what must be delivered and about the mechanisms for changing requirements.[231] As Mike Conway of Sodexo explained, when new providers begin to run a new prison or take over an existing one, efficiencies are built into the contract when it is agreed.[232] He also noted that it was difficult to compare the finances of public and private sector prisons as their cost base was different, in terms of overheads for example.[233]

101. Some witnesses questioned whether public sector prisons could reasonably make comparable savings to those achieved in the private sector.[234] Our conversations during our visits and with private sector providers suggested that, as we have already mentioned, technology, in particular in-cell self-service kiosks, had been a contributory factor in limiting the costs of running new establishments, enabling them to be run with leaner staffing levels, for example.[235] In older establishments such as HMP Birmingham and HMP Northumberland, which Serco and Sodexo have acquired from the public sector, these providers have also invested in such technology.[236] Mike Conway of Sodexo questioned whether operating on slimmer staffing levels would be feasible in the public sector without reforms of this nature.[237]

102. It is possible that the Ministry might be taking the matter of the sudden rise in self-inflicted deaths seriously internally, but downplaying publicly its significance, and the potential role that changes in prisons policy might be playing in it, is ill-advised as it could be construed as complacency and a lack of urgency. The Ministry told us they had looked hard for evidence of factors which could be causing an increase in suicide rates, self-harm and levels of assault in prisons. Worryingly, they had not managed to arrive at any hypothesis as to why this has taken place. In our view it is not possible to avoid the conclusion that the confluence of estate modernisation and re-configuration, efficiency savings, staffing shortages, and changes in operational policy, including to the Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme, have made a significant contribution to the deterioration in safety.

103. Private sector prisons have not been immune from the imposition of efficiency savings but once their contracts have been agreed they are insulated to some extent. They also benefit from their greater ability to make capital investments in the hope of recouping the benefit over the lifetime of the contract, while public sector processes restrain such investment. We conclude that public sector prisons need greater capacity to invest in cost-effective and operationally beneficial improvements in the way that the private sector does.

NOMS' measures to manage and resolve the situation

104. The Government has employed a series of interim measures to enable prisons to be managed as safely as possible in the short term, along with efforts better to manage the challenges relating to changes in the prison population, and longer-term measures to improve NOMS' resilience in future. Towards the end of our inquiry the Government announced a package of measures to seek better to control violence.[238] These were mainly designed to strengthen the criminal justice response to prisoner violence, perhaps in an effort to deter such behaviour. In particular, a joint protocol produced by the Prison Service, Crown Prosecution Service and Association of Chief Police Officers sets out a presumption in favour of prosecution when there are serious assaults on prison staff, unless there is a good reason why not. The Prison Service is also to make greater use of body worn cameras, and the Ministry put forward legislation in the Serious Crime Bill to ensure that prisoners who possess knives and other offensive weapons in prison will face prosecution under a new criminal offence punishable by up to four years in prison.[239]


105. The Ministry has been seeking to address staffing shortages in five main ways: the use of restricted regimes; the use of overtime;[240] the deployment of detached duty staff to 25 prisons with the most severe problems; the introduction of a special reserve force to be deployed across the prison estate; and an accelerated recruitment drive for 1,700 new prison officers by March 2015.[241]

106. A substantial number of prisons have implemented restrictions to their regimes as staffing levels had become too low to run existing regimes safely. According to the Chief Inspector of Prisons, on 10 November 2014, 22 prisons were operating restricted regimes.[242] Michael Spurr explained why this might occur:

    Governors may adjust/restrict regimes to ensure safety, security and decency for prisoners and staff. This is a process of identifying the reduced level of activity to ensure a safe, decent and secure regime, whilst maintaining key services—such as meals, time in the open air, time to make telephone calls, visits, the dispensing of medication and access to healthcare—and some purposeful activity, which will vary according to the facilities of the prison and the function of the prison.[243]

107. Mr Hardwick concluded that such restrictions were a sensible means of managing staffing problems and providing certainty for prisoners of running consistent regimes.[244]

108. Some restricted regimes have had to be imposed for a considerable length of time. We heard that at HMP Isis, for example, a restricted regime had been introduced on a temporary basis in summer 2013 and remained in place 14 months later. In addition to the enduring pressure on staff of having to deal with a heavier workload, at times this had led to prisons having to lockdown entirely due to severe staff shortages.[245] In HMP Wormwood Scrubs prisoners were spending longer in their cells, sometimes up to 23 hours per day.[246] On the other hand, the IMB Chair at Belmarsh felt that the restricted regime at that prison was working relatively well.[247]

109. The cost of staffing the detached duty scheme—whereby operational staff are posted to establishments with the most severe shortfalls in staff—over the 13 months a national scheme has been in operation is £63.5 million, amounting to £2,500 per officer per month, which has been absorbed into the Ministry's staffing budget.[248] However the Ministry has been unable to inform us of the full cost implications of this scheme; staff presumably also receive subsistence, travel and accommodation costs, overtime payments and other financial inducements.[249]

110. Drafting in staff on detached duty might resolve the issue of absolute staffing numbers but there are limitations to what they can do in practice. Mr Hardwick explained the challenges encountered by the Inspectorate with such an approach: "[they] obviously do not know the prison and the prisoners in the way that the regular staff do. They can do the turnkey business, but it is very difficult for them to do more than that."[250] Similarly, our evidence suggests that inexperienced staff have been deployed to plug gaps. For example, in order to maximise staff numbers when prisoners are unlocked, security staff have been drafted on to wings. Angela Levin was concerned that these staff had never done such work and had no idea how to deal with the challenges prisoners might present.[251] She intimated their role was to "come and stand in to give the impression that they have more staff than they in fact have".[252] It is difficult to determine the extent to which these issues are related to immediate shortage or benchmarking, as some redeployment of staff is part of more streamlined operating procedures. These pressures do not appear to be abating as the number of detached duty staff has not fallen.[253] Table 6 shows the average provision of staff on detached duty has been at or above 230 per week since July 2014.

Table 6: Average weekly provision of staff on detached duty to prisons in England & Wales-November 2013 to November 2014

MonthFTE Officers Provided
November 2013110
December 2013210
January 2014210
February 2014160
March 2014130
April 2014210
May 2014160
June 2014170
July 2014230
August 2014240
September 2014230
October 2014240
November 2014230

Source: PPP62 [Ministry of Justice]

111. In addition to the recruitment drive for operational staff, NOMS is actively recruiting to fill vacancies in other staffing groups, with priority being given to the recruitment of Operational Support Grades and Instructional staff.[254] The costs of recruitment and initial training amounted to £9 million in the nine months to December 2014. NOMS was confident that it was on track to tackle both current vacancies and anticipated normal turnover over the coming months. Michael Spurr claimed that recruitment levels, of over 1,000 new staff, were such that the level of detached duty and impact of restricted regimes would both be reduced after Christmas 2014.[255] The number of staff continued to fall up to December 2014.[256] It is not clear whether account has been taken of the need to staff the new places that are coming on stream in spring 2015, in particular the re-roled young offender establishments.

112. Some witnesses questioned whether staffing difficulties would indeed be resolved by spring 2015 as the Government intends. For example, the Chair of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Isis shared with us a letter he had sent to the Minister in which he explained that the staffing situation at that prison was severe and deteriorating:

    The prison, as of today, is 26 officers short of the agreed 'benchmarking' complement of 112. In addition, there are currently a further 27 officers unavailable due to factors such as sickness, maternity leave, restricted duties, disciplinary matters and temporary promotions…that is nearly half of the required workforce not being available.

As we noted above, the recruitment of officers is only part of the solution. While the Government's recruitment drive is welcome, in the short term it will result in an influx of inexperienced staff. It will take some time before prisons are operating at their full benchmarked strength, while staff are in the process of gaining the skills and knowledge required to do their job effectively; new recruits undertake an eight week course and complete an NVQ over their first year.

Responsiveness of NOMS to changing operational demands

113. Michael Spurr sought to assure us that with a full staffing complement prisons could operate effectively under their benchmarks:

    …it is important to say that we are implementing systems that are working somewhere. We have taken the best systems and said that we want them to work everywhere. That is one of the things that gives me confidence. In prisons that have managed to have the resources they need, we are getting good outcomes and that is reflected in some positive inspection outcomes where we have benchmarked and have the right staff in place.[257]

Nick Hardwick's conversations with prison governors suggested to him that they supported this view.[258] On the other hand, the pace and scale of change was seen as a contributory factor in some of the difficulties experienced by governors. Stephen O'Connell explained:

    Whether benchmarking in itself is the right answer or whether closing prisons and opening new ones is the right answer, it is not so much the individual parts but the fact that it all has to be done so quickly. As you know, when you push the pace of change it creates risk. […] Over time and at a slower pace we would be able to manage that risk more effectively, but obviously it would not save money as quickly.[259]

114. The importance of monitoring carefully prison performance was emphasised by Mr Wheatley: "It is not easy to make a place improve, and when you have made it improve it is very easy to let it slip. Once it has slipped, it is difficult to get back again. Running prisons well is a very difficult thing. It requires high quality governors and really good staff, who need supporting."[260] NOMS is monitoring the impact of benchmarking through a monthly assurance board, visits and routine performance data.[261] The management of prisons requires NOMS to keep their resources under review, and to change them if necessary. Public prisons can issue NOMS with notification that change to the benchmark is necessary, in a similar way to which private sector providers can alter their contracts. NOMS says that this enables them to respond to changing operational demands, for example if the size or the nature of the population at a prison were to alter.[262]

115. Both public and private sector prisons have been in a state of flux over the last two years, for a host of reasons. These include the implementation of new operational policies, staffing reductions, populations changing and stabilising as prisons have opened, closed or re-roled, transfers from the private sector to the public sector and vice versa, and large-scale building projects on existing prison sites. It would be surprising if there had not been some adverse impact on performance. We believe that the key explanatory factor for the obvious deterioration in standards over the last year is that a significant number of prisons have been operating at staffing levels below what is necessary to maintain reasonable, safe and rehabilitative regimes. Having fewer prison officers can tip the power balance, leading to less safety and more intimidation and violence on wings. Interim measures such as restricted regimes and the national detached duty scheme have been adopted as a necessary means of minimising the risks of operating with insufficient staff, but these measures themselves have an adverse impact on the ability of the prison system to achieve rehabilitation and reduce reoffending.

116. The Government has been reluctant to acknowledge the serious nature of the operational and safety challenges facing prisons, and the role of its own policy decisions in creating them. Some difficulties could arise in any process of change, but it is clear to us that the Ministry had not planned adequately for the risk of staffing shortages, and failed to act sufficiently quickly to mitigate them. This unsatisfactory outcome and sluggish response has risked jeopardising the safety of prisoners and prison staff. We note that NOMS believes that these problems will begin to recede, and that the situation will have stabilised by April 2015, but we found convincing evidence that more pressurised working conditions for staff are compounding the staffing problem. Over the medium to long-term it is our view that turnover is likely to remain at undesirably high levels if some public sector prisons are operating with insufficient staff.

117. The Ministry remains optimistic that the benchmarking policy will prove a safe and effective means of reducing costs, but the current difficulties in many prisons highlight the hazards of seeking to run an estate operating at 98% capacity with staffing levels which afford too little flexibility. We welcome a more robust response to assaults on staff as a response to incidents of violence, but the real answer lies in staffing levels and regimes which minimise such violence. We recommend, especially in the light of the Government's acceptance that there is now a more challenging mix of prisoners, that staffing benchmarks should be altered upwards to ensure prisons are able to have the capacity to return to the levels of operational performance which prevailed early in this Parliament. In its response to this report we also request the Ministry of Justice to provide a full update on progress which has been made in restoring staffing levels, and to set out what other steps it is taking to address low staff morale and improve the retention of staff, across the whole prison estate and in areas of particular shortfalls.

118. The Ministry's inability to provide us with fully worked out costings of its reforms is a recurring issue for us. We request the Ministry to provide in its response to this Report an analysis of the impact additional staffing and recruitment costs will have on the Ministry's ability to meet its spending targets for the 2014-15 financial year, along with an assessment of whether the additional staff being recruited will be sufficient also to staff the new prison places opening in the spring.

127   Q 12, HC [Session 2012-13] 741-i.  Back

128   Q 81 Back

129   Qq 81-82 [Mr Wheatley, Mr Lockyer]; PPP13 [Prison Officers Association]  Back

130   Q 209 [Mr Bailey; Mr Buparai]; Q 210 [Mr Gillan]; PPP34 [Prison Governors Alliance] Back

131   PPP15 [Serco]; PPP45 [G4S]; Q 335 [Mr Conway] Back

132   PPP33 [Ministry of Justice]  Back

133   Q 117 Back

134   Q 6, Justice Committee, The work of the Secretary for State: one-off, Session 2014-15, HC 312 Back

135   National Offender Management Service, Our new way of working Back

136   Qq 81-83 Back

137   PPP17 [British Psychological Society] Back

138   Ministry of Justice, Prison and probation trust performance statistics 2013 to 2014, 28 October 2014  Back

139   Ministry of Justice, Prisons and probation trust performance statistics 2012 to 2013, 31 October 2013; Ministry of Justice, Prisons and probation trust performance statistics 2011 to 2012, 28 November 2012. Back

140   HMP Woodhill Independent Monitoring Board, Annual Report 1 June 2013 to 31 May 2014, 20 November 2014; HMP Brixton Independent Monitoring Board, Annual Report to the Secretary of State, 1 September 2013 to 31 August 2014; HMP and YOI Wormwood Scrubs Independent Monitoring Board, Annual Report 1 June 2013 to 31 May 2014. See also: PPP50, PPP51 [Dr Penzer]; PPP54 [Ms Homan]; PPP59 [Mr Thornhill]; PPP63 [Ms Boothman] Back

141   Calculated by comparing the first nine months of 2012 with the same period in 2014. Back

142   An act of concerted indiscipline is an incident in which two or more prisoners act together in defiance of a lawful instruction or against the requirements of the regime of the establishment. HL Deb, 8 Jan 2007, col WA36-37 Back

143   BBC Radio 4, Today, 14 June 2014, Mr Hardwick; Q 96 [Mr Neilson] Back

144   Qq 16-18 Justice Committee, The Work of the Secretary of State, Session 2014-15, HC 312 Back

145   HC Deb, 9 December 2014, col W Back

146   In 2012 there were 94 incidents of concerted indiscipline, in 2013 there were 147, and in the 9 months to September 2014 there were 153, giving a projection of 191 for 2014. PPP62 [MoJ]; NOMS was unable to provide data on the number of prisoners involved in such incidents. Back

147   House of Commons Written Answers and Questions, Written Question 217216, Answered on 9 December 2014.  Back

148   National Offender Management Service, Business Plan, Ministry of Justice, London.  Back

149   Q 120 [Mr Hardwick] Back

150   HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Annual Report 2013-2014, 21 October 2014.  Back

151   Q 5 [Ms Levin]; PPP12 [Prison Reform Trust]; PPP19 [Association of Colleges]; PPP09 [Prisoner Learning Alliance]; PPP10 [Milton Keynes College] Back

152   PPP54 [Independent Monitoring Board, HMP Belmarsh]; Q 1 Back

153   PPP60 [Howard League] Back

154   PPP53 [Prisoners' Learning Alliance and Prisoners Education Trust supplementary]; PPP13 [Prison Officers' Association]; PPP18 [A4e]  Back

155   The Guardian, A4e terminates prisoner prison education training contract, 13 August 2013; see also PPP10 [Milton Keynes College] Back

156   Q 190 Back

157   PPP19 [Association of Colleges] Back

158   Correspondence with Committee Secretariat. These figures related to eligible cases for investigation at the end of the first quarter (April-June) 2014, compared to the first quarter of the previous year 2013-14. After he gave evidence he told us informally that there had been a fall in the volume of complaints so for the first three quarters of 2014-15, the increase amounted to 18% on the same period in the previous year i.e. April to December 2013. Back

159   Q 118 Back

160   PPP 39 [Ministry of Justice]  Back

161   Q 242  Back

162   Q 19 [Ms Russo] Back

163   PPP44 [Zahid Mubarek Trust]; PPP05 [Mission And Public Affairs Council, Church Of England] Back

164   HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Annual Report 2013-2014, 21 October 2014. Back

165   Q 131 Back

166   Q 101 [Mr Edgar]; Qq 207-208 [Mr Bailey; Mr Gillan]: Q 117 [Mr O'Connell]; Q 129 [Mr Newcomen Back

167   Q 47 [Andrew Selous] HC[Session 2014-15]659; Q 57 [Michael Spurr] HC[Session 2014-15]659; Conservative Home Article, Interview: Grayling - As Lord Chancellor, 21 January 2015. Back

168   Qq 1-2 Back

169   PPP53 [Prisoners Education Trust]; PPP54 [Ms Homan]; Managing the Prison Estate, December 2013 Back

170   PPP17 [British Psychological Society] Back

171   Q 34 [Ms Russo] Back

172   Q 101 [Mr Edgar] Back

173   PPP03 [Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Crime, Community and Justice Sub-Committee] Back

174   Q 2 [Ms Levin] Back

175   Q 83 Back

176   PPP13 [Prison Officers' Association] Back

177   PPP45 [G4S]; Q 266 [Mr Petherick] Back

178   Q 30 [Ms Levin] Back

179   Q 33 [Ms Levin]; Q 34 [Ms Russo]; Q 331 [Ms Moseley OBE] Back

180   PPP40 [Prison Reform Trust supplementary evidence] Back

181   PPP44 [Zahid Mubarek Trust] Back

182   PPP40 [Prison Reform Trust supplementary evidence] Back

183   PPP62 [MoJ]  Back

184   Q 83 [Mr Wheatley]; Q 117 [Mr Hardwick]; PPP12 [Prison Reform Trust]; Q 241 [Ms Homan]; PPP17 [British Psychological Society];
Q 209 [Mr Bailey] 

185   Q 15 HC 848; Q 5 HC 312  Back

186   Q 316; Q 325[Ms Gibbs] Back

187   National offender management workforce statistics, September 2014. Back

188   Qq 124-125 [Mr Hardwick]; Q 241 [Ms Homan]; Q 96 [Mr Neilson] Back

189   PPP19 [Association of Colleges]; Q 241 [Ms Homan]; Q 207; Q 124 [Nick Hardwick] Back

190   PPP33 [Ministry of Justice] Back

191   PPP12 [Prison Reform Trust] Back

192   PPP42 [National Offender Management Service]; Howard League, Prisons hit by staff shortages, 18 December 2014  Back

193   Q 207 Back

194   Q 119 Back

195   Q 208 Back

196   University of Bedfordshire, Independent survey of Prison Officers reveals staff totally demoralised, 19 November 2014. Back

197   See also National offender management workforce statistics, September 2014. Back

198   Q 19, Justice Committee, Annual report and accounts, one-off session, 28 October 2014, HC 658.  Back

199   Ibid, Q 20 Back

200   Q 385 [Mr Spurr] Back

201   Q 19, 28 October 2014; 28 October HC 658, Q 3 Back

202   Q 42 HC848; Q 2 The Work of the Secretary of State, HC 312, 9 July 2014 Back

203   Q 326 [Ms Hinnigan]; PPP41 [National Offender Management Service] Back

204   In June 2014 there were 32,550 prison staff Back

205   PPP41 [National Offenders Management Service] Back

206   IbidBack

207   Ministry of Justice, National Offender Management Service workforce statistics, September 2014,  Back

208   Q 352 [Mr Thorburn] Back

209   Q 188 [Mr Biggin] Back

210   Q 8 HC 312, 9 July 2014 Back

211   National Offender Management Service, Safety in Custody, 30 October 2014. There were 15,441 assault incidents in the 12 months to the end of June 2014, up from 14,045 incidents in the previous 12 months. The rate of assaults is 181 incidents per 1,000 prisoners, up from 165 incidents in the 12 months to end of June 2013. There were 1,817 incidents of serious assault in the 12 months to June 2014 from 1,377 in the same period last year. Back

212   Ibid. In October 2014, the Prison Officers' Association successfully challenged in the High Court a decision made by the Crown Prosecution Service to discontinue proceedings against a prisoner who had assaulted a prison officer. See Press Notice, POA succeed in legal challenge against prisoner, 27 October 2014. In November 2014, the Government announced a change of policy, set out later in this chapter. Back

213   Q 8, The Work of the Secretary of State, HC 312, 9 July 2014; At that time data on suicides that would coincide with the rise in suicide in prisons were not publicly available. The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics released in February 2014 , which related to 2012, indicated that the overall trend over the last decade has been a decrease in the suicide rate for the UK general population, with a small rise in the last 4 years up to 2012. From 2011 to 2012 the suicide rate fell slightly from 11.8 incidents per 100,000 people aged 15 and over to 11.6 incidents. On 19 February 2015 the Office for National Statistics published data for 2013 showing a 4% increase in suicides by people aged 15 and over compared to the previous year. This equates to 11.9 incidents per 100,000 population. Back

214   Q 41, HC 848 Back

215   IbidBack

216   Q 65 [Paula Harriott]; Q 132 [Stephen O'Connell]; Q 228 [Adellah]; Q 347 [Mike Conway]; Q 349 [Jerry Petherick] Back

217   The Guardian, Legal highs and prescription drugs face ban in English and Welsh prisons,, 26 January 2015  Back

218   Discussion on visits; Q 4 [Ms Levin] Back

219   Q 101 Back

220   Ministry of Justice, New crackdown on dangerous legal highs in prison, 25 January 2015 Back

221   HC Written questions and answers, WQ216064 Back

222   Examples of this included gang conflicts among young adult prisoners; Q 2 HC 312, 9 July 2014; Qq 5, 42 HC 848 Back

223   Q 132 [Mr O'Connell]; Q173 [Mr Hawkings; Mr Cartwright; Mr Biggin] Back

224   Q 141 Back

225   Q 102 [Mr Neilson] Back

226   HM Inspector of Prisons, Thematic report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons: Report of a review of the implementation of the Zahid Mubarek Inquiry recommendations, June 2014, p.6 Back

227   PPP44 [Zahid Mubarek Trust] Back

228   IbidBack

229   PPP47 [Prison Reform Trust supplementary evidence] Back

230   HC Deb, 2 Sep 2013, Col 206W; Add: See, for example, changes in certified normal accommodation between October 2013 and October 2014: Ministry of Justice Monthly Population Bulletin October 2014 London: Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Justice Monthly Population Bulletin October 2013 London: Ministry of Justice Back

231   Q 337 Back

232   Q 335 Back

233   Q 334  Back

234   PPP12 [Prison Reform Trust] Back

235   Qq 335; 342 [Mr Conway]; Q 341 [Mr Petherick] Back

236   Q 166 Back

237   Q 335 Back

238   Ministry of Justice press release, Crackdown on violence in prisons, 16 November 2014.  Back

239   IbidBack

240   Prison Officers are able to work up to an additional 9 hours per week under the Payment Plus scheme. Back

241   PPP41; PPP42 [National Offender Management Service]  Back

242   Q 120 Back

243   PPP42 [National Offender Management Service] Back

244   Q 120. See also Qq 191-192 [Mr Hawkings] Back

245   Correspondence between Mr Pinchin and Mr Selous; Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons, Unannounced inspection, 2-13 July 2014 HMP Elmley, 12 November 2014 Back

246   Q 1; Q 5 Back

247   Q 166 Back

248   PPP41 [National Offenders Management Service]; PPP62 [Ministry of Justice] Back

249   PPP62 [Ministry of Justice]. The Ministry said there are additional costs (including travel, accommodation and subsistence costs) but it was not possible to disaggregate these associated costs of detached duty within the central financial records from other expenses claimed by staff without incurring significant cost as it would require the manual review and collation of data from online expenses systems and travel providers. In relation to these other costs, the House of Commons Library found that Circular 137, 1 December 2014 lists 14 establishments - Aylesbury, Brinsford, Bullingdon, Chelmsford, Elmley, Feltham, Haverigg, Highdown, Hull, Isis, Nottingham, Swaleside, Woodhill and Wormwood Scrubs - at which prison officers on compulsory detached duty would receive a "special bonus payment" for working on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. The bonus was £110 for a main shift, £55 for an early shift, £80 for a late shift and £165 for an A shift. The circular comments that "These special bonus payments when added to the Payment Plus rate of £17 per hour equate to approximately £30 per hour based on a national benchmark weekend day."; POA circular 139, 23 December 2014 - The attached letters from Ian Mulholland indicate that prison officers who reach the 30 day limit for claiming overnight subsistence may nevertheless continue to claim it, if they are part of the national detached duty arrangement; POA Circular 4, 19 January 2015 mentions "targeted use" of the special bonus scheme, which implies that the scheme has been continued beyond the Christmas/New Year period.  Back

250   Q 124  Back

251   Q 2 Back

252   IbidBack

253   PPP62 [Ministry of Justice] Back

254   PPP41. Operational support grades do a variety of duties, including checking in visitors; supervising visitors; patrolling perimeter and grounds; escorting contractors and vehicles; searching buildings and searching prisoners' property. Instructional officers provide prisoners with vocational training. Working for HMPS, downloaded 3 February 2015  Back

255   Q 382 Back

256   Ministry of Justice, National Offender Management Service workforce statistics: December 2014, 29 January 2015


257   Justice Committee, Older prisoners: follow-up, 29 October 2014, Q 21 HC 659 Back

258   Q 117 Back

259   Q 117 Back

260   Q 82 Back

261   Q 382 [Mr Spurr] Back

262   PPP41 [National Offenders Management Service] Back

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