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Prison Service (Lancashire)

Volume 469: debated on Tuesday 11 December 2007

8. What assessment he has made of trends in levels of recruitment into the Prison Service in Lancashire; and if he will make a statement. (172665)

Since 2000, the average recruitment of prison officers in the north-west, including Lancashire prisons, has been 200 a year. Taking account of turnover and the provision of increased capacity, the Prison Service expects to recruit 340 new officers in the north-west by March 2009, and a new national recruitment campaign will be launched in January 2008.

As my right hon. Friend is aware, retention is a key issue, and the way to achieve that is through morale within the Prison Service. He may or may not be aware—I have mentioned it once before—of morale at Wymott. What can he do to ensure that morale is lifted and that the Prison Officers Association and the governor get on better working terms, so that retention is key to the prison’s future?

As I said in last week’s debate, I shall be happy to receive any representations that my hon. Friend wishes to make so that I and the management team can address specific issues. The resignation rate among officers in Lancashire this year is just 1.3 per cent. against the national figure of 2 per cent. I shall certainly consider the issues that he raises, but there is strong stability in the Prison Service staff in Lancashire at the moment.