Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah today (22 June) visited HMP Stoke Heath to speak with staff and see reform in action.

As part of his continued nationwide tour of prisons, the Prisons Minister sat down with Governor John Huntington and staff from various roles to hear about the challenges they face and how the recruitment efforts of prison officers are progressing.

The government has been clear in its commitment to building on the essential reforms that are already under way, including supporting both offenders and ex-offenders in finding sustained employment.

As a training prison, HMP Stoke Heath prepares prisoners to lead a life without crime by providing relevant skills for a career on release.

The prison is installing a new car mechanics workshop, which will utilise a large range of technical and bespoke equipment to teach prisoners about all aspects of motor mechanics. This provides them with a more realistic training environment.

In addition, the prison is establishing links with local employers to provide further opportunities for prisoners to gain employment on release and so they can start to rebuild their lives.

Sam GyimahPrisons Minister Sam Gyimah said: "Prison and probation officers do a vital and often challenging job, protecting the public by supporting offenders to turn their backs on crime and getting into education and work.

"I am grateful to the staff who have taken the time to show me around their establishment and who have openly and honestly discussed matters which are important to them.

"I want staff across the service to know that whilst their work for the public is often unseen, it is highly valued."

"The prison tour followed a visit to the Warkwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). The CRC delivers employment and training to support individuals back to work once released from the prison.

Record numbers of new prison officers joining the service

This additional resource meets the commitment to recruit 2,500 new officers as part of the major package of reforms. In addition the government is recruiting an additional 600 probation officers over the next 12 months.

By having more staff on the ground, the government will provide the support that they need to do their job and enable more time to be spent reforming offenders which will ultimately prevent victims and better protect the public.

This last year saw the highest level of new joiners (band 3-5 officers) since March 2010 and Prison officer numbers have increased for the first time since March 2016.

The Ministry of Justice has:

  • appointed 75 mentors for new starter prison officers to help them in their first few months in the job which we know can be a difficult time
  • started targeted local recruitment initiatives at 30 sites so that governors can more easily recruit the people they need
  • developed a new graduate scheme ‘Unlocked’ that will encourage people from a broader range of backgrounds to join the Service
  • launched a Troops to Officers scheme that will support people to join the Prison Service after leaving the military
  • introduced a pay increase for Band 3 Officers on Fair and Sustainable (F&S) terms at 31 difficult-to-recruit prisons
  • prison officers have the opportunity to earn over £30,000 depending on location of prison and hours contract. Plus public sector pension and other benefits
  • substantial investment in marketing and targeted recruitment to generate even more interest in these valuable roles

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