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Prison Officers

Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much counselling is given to prison officers following serious incidents in order to allow recovery. [116949]

Counselling is available to staff following a serious incident in the Prison Service. The Prison Service Staff Care and Welfare Service (SCWS) provides an externally sourced, specialist service for those staff who are assessed as requiring counselling. BMI Health Services, the occupational health advisors to the Prison Service also assess and where appropriate, recommend treatment designed to support staff as part of their return to work programme.In the last 12 months, over 400 prison staff have been provided with an average of seven counselling sessions per person following incidents in establishments. The counselling budget available to SCWS has been significantly increased in the current financial year recognising the importance that the Prison Service places on staff support services.Additionally, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), a specialised service for staff suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been introduced. Between January and April 2003 three staff have been referred for EM DR treatment. Contact has also been made with 'Combat Stress', an armed forces welfare society for ex-forces staff. They provide specialist support services for those staff that are found to be suffering from PTSD, which has been specifically linked to incidents experienced while on active service. A fast track psychological referral system is also being piloted in two Prison Service areas for staff suffering from work related stress, anxiety and depression. Funding for this activity is being provided by area managers.Appropriate use is also made of counselling services provided by general practitioners and specialist treatment services available within the NHS.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what facilities exist for prison officers to be moved to non-inmate contact work following stress related incidents in the Prison Service. [116950]

Support for staff following stress related incidents is managed by the establishment at which they work. There are a number of options in each establishment to deploy officers on non-prisoner contact duties. Such duties are given for a time bound period to assist in rehabilitation and recovery from a stress related incident.The individual needs of an officer are considered in each case and the decision to offer alternative work is guided by medical and support service advice. Establishments have full access to occupational health advice. It is a mandatory requirement to seek occupational health advice in serious stress related illness cases. Staff care and welfare services will also provide additional support and counselling services.While the non-prisoner contact duties will vary between prisons, they would normally include training, gate duties, administration or non-contact security work. Officers may also be relocated outside of the prison at which an incident occurred.