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Prison Officers (Fitness Tests)

Volume 550: debated on Tuesday 18 September 2012

18. If he will assess the effectiveness of the fitness tests that prisoner officers are required to take. (121201)

Prison Service fitness assessments test whether prison officers are capable of safely and competently carrying out control and restraint procedures on prisoners when necessary. The assessment has been validated by academic study. As with all Prison Service policies, it will be kept under review.

I am sure that the Minister has not yet had time to do the test, but it already means that a large number of prison officers are retired every year. Does he think that it is realistic for people to pass the test when he is raising the retirement age to 68?

The hon. Lady is right; I have not yet had the chance to do the test, but I have to tell her that I fancy my chances, because I understand that the pass rate is something like 99%. For her reassurance, the pass rate for those prison officers who are over 60 is something like 98%. It is worth making the point that most of our constituents would regard it as sensible that prison officers, who have to do difficult, challenging and sometimes very physical work, are fit enough to do it.