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Prison Service Staff Of Afro-Caribbean Origin

Volume 589: debated on Wednesday 6 May 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 9 April

(WA 175–6), what steps the Prison Service intend to take to encourage persons of Afro-Caribbean ethnic origin to be recruited and trained as members of the Prison Service. [HL1607]

As an equal opportunities employer, the Prison Service is committed to increasing the numbers of ethnic minority staff which it employs at all levels, consistent with fair and open competition and with recruitment and promotion on merit. Measures taken include the following:As part of the guidance on devolved recruitment, governors have been encouraged to take positive action to redress the current under-representation of people from the ethnic minorities;Job simulation and assessment centres (JSACs) for the recruitment of prison officers support the devolved recruitment of prison officers. Latest figures for the year to 31 March 1998 indicate that approximately 7 per cent. of people succeeding at JSACs are from ethnic minorities: a three-fold increase on previous figures for people joining the Prison Service;Prison Service staff are taking part in the national mentoring scheme, which seeks to benefit ethnic minority undergraduates by pairing them with management level staff who act as their mentors.In August 1997, the Home Secretary established a monitoring group on the position of ethnic minority staff in the Home Office with the following terms of reference: "To examine the position of ethnic minority staff in the Home Office, the measures taken to ensure their full representation and employment and to reduce real and perceived disadvantage and to make further proposals for action". The Prisons Board is fully committed to the monitoring group and is carrying out a comprehensive review in the Prison Service. This will lead to the development of a racial equality action plan which will recommend further measures to stimulate the recruitment of staff from ethnic minorities.