David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, is giving ConservativeHome readers exclusive sight of a document that he has obtained from within the prison service which he believes suggests there will be "dangerous" cuts in staffing as part of a process to find "significant cost reductions".
The document, headed "Draft notice to staff" and subtitled "The management of vacancies and staff surplus" states:
"Over the next twelve months a number of changes will take place that are likely to have a significant effect on the number of staff at any workplace. Both national and regional headquarters of NOMS [National Offender Management Service] are being restructured bringing together the former NOMS and HMPS [Her Majesty’s Prison Service] management structures above establishment level. This will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of staff required."
In reference to Ministry of Justice requirements for "more significant cost reductions", the document continues: "All of this is likely to lead to reductions in staff numbers" (although for whatever reason a manuscript amendment has put square brackets around this phrase).
Mr Davies says:
"It is a document that has been issued to senior managers in the prison service, and it clearly details the Government’s intention to reduce the number of prison officers to save money at a time when crime is rising and they are promising ‘Titan’ prisons. Understaffing prisons is very dangerous for the prison officers who are left."
Justice questions take place in the Commons today, so perhaps there will be an opportunity for the issue to be raised directly with ministers there.
Whilst it is indeed right that the State should, like the country at large, also tighten its belt during these difficult economic times, it is surely paramount that no savings found by such agencies as the police and prison service put anyone in any danger. Hopefully such reassurances will be forthcoming.
I have reproduced the document below – click on it to enlarge it.