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Prison Service: Working Hours

Volume 458: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the new Contract Supplementary Hours Scheme was introduced to the Prison Service; what the reasons were for its introduction; when the use of the scheme was extended; and what the reasons were for the extension. (126329)

The Contract Supplementary Hours scheme was first introduced in April 2001 to overcome staff recruitment and retention difficulties in the South East which were affecting the Prison Service’s ability to deliver decent prisoner regimes. The scheme was extended across the Prison Service from 30 April 2002 to provide operational flexibility and arrangements were formalised through Prison Service Instruction 26/2003 in June 2003. The scheme can be activated locally by individual Governors when staff vacancies occur in order to maintain regime delivery. Participation on the scheme is entirely voluntary.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures the Prison Service has put in place to address the local recruitment and retention difficulties that caused the introduction of, and the extension to, the new Contract Supplementary Hours scheme. (126332)

Since 2001, the Prison Service has had in place a system of local pay allowance specifically targeting areas where recruitment and retention difficulties have been identified. In addition the “headstart” scheme allows Governors in areas where retention and recruitment is particularly demanding to appoint new staff on an enhanced level of basic pay at a point above the standard entry level. These measures, together with changes to recruitment procedures, have enabled the public sector Prison Service to increase prison officer recruitment from under 500 new staff in 2001 to over 1,700 new staff in 2006.