Yesterday, the Government announced an Emergency Prison Release Scheme based on legislation that will allow early releases. This scheme will apply to prisoners serving determinate sentences with automatic release at 50% point. Prisoners will be released 18 days earlier than their Actual Release Date. This scheme will run initially for a 2-week period, and the Government hope to make available at least 200 spaces. Those prisoners convicted of sexual offences, Terrorist Offences, serving more than 4 years for violence, licence recalls and those of Category A status will not be eligible for early release.

This new scheme comes after the Government have previously announced Operation Safeguard (use of Police Cells) and their announcement that they intend to use prison spaces in foreign countries in the near future. It also comes after HMPPS informed us that they will begin to operate a Restricted Open Estate Transfer Scheme.  It has also been announced that the Government intend to increase community sentences for less serious offences.

These announcements follow the Government closing 10700 prison places since 2010, only opening 11000, whilst at the same time introducing tougher sentencing.  Ministers have continually failed to heed warnings from the POA that there was an impending shortage of places due to a number of factors.

Steve Gillan, General Secretary, said; 

These and previous announcements indicate a Government that just cannot do its mathematics. Anybody could see that the closure of prisons, tougher sentencing, increased recruitment in Police Forces, the failure to implement reforms for female prisoners and the failure to tackle the legacy of IPP sentences would ultimately lead us to the chaos that we are now facing in regard to Prison Capacity. 

Mark Fairhurst, National Chair, said;

This is just another example of a short-term solution to a long-term problem. HMPPS will be in the same situation in the future when these anticipated 200 spaces are swallowed up by the system. The frustrating thing with these announcements is that we are consulted on them, but we are never asked to advise or negotiate on what could be achieved within current resources.

Despite our members being treated with contempt by this Government and our employer, they are loyal, resourceful, and resilient. Why does the employer or the Government refuse to engage with us on this problem, instead introducing one more hairbrained scheme after another?





For further information, contact:

POA Press Office                                                020 8803 0255 Option 7

Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.