POA Circulars

37 | 09.04.2014

Prison Population: Moth-balled accommodation HMP Hull and Chelmsford to re-open

The National Executive Committee have today been advised by NOMS that they intend to open moth-balled accommodation at HMP Hull and Chelmsford in the very near future due to the continued rise in the Prison Population.

The NEC strongly objected to the moth-balling of this prison accommodation in 2013. This was in addition to the prison closure programme which disrupted the lives of hundreds of POA members and their families. The POA have been advising NOMS and the Ministry of Justice that predicting the prison population is an inexact science and that they should not have closed this accommodation in order to accommodate voluntary redundancies as a short sighted cost saving exercise.

The NEC has recently been in discussions with NOMS over the difficulties in managing the prison population. We must now question where the staff will come from due to the chronic staffing crisis across the Service. The continued use of detached duty is unsustainable and unacceptable.

The use of Payment Plus as a means to cover staff shortfalls may be a short term solution but this often comes with hidden costs, such as staff sickness, burn out and unrest within our prison system.

It is now time for the Ministry of Justice and NOMS to recruit sufficient prison officers and other operational grades with a remuneration package that reflects the difficult and dangerous job they will perform in the essential protection of the public.

We will be seeking early meetings with NOMS to discuss the implications of this decision, which has not been discussed at national level to establish the short, medium and long term plans of NOMS.

Further information will be promulgated in due course.

Yours sincerely

National Vice Chairman