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Prison Officer Safety

Volume 630: debated on Tuesday 31 October 2017

We are working to keep our brave prison officers safe by strengthening the frontline. We had 20,000 individual officers in post at the end of August. That is an increase of 1,290 since October last year and the highest level since 2013. We are also giving our prison officers the tools that they need to do their job. We have invested in 5,600 body-worn cameras across the prison estate to protect and deter assaults.

In Chelmsford Prison, the number of attacks against staff rose to more than 120 last year, but since then it has recruited more staff and installed innovative mobile phone detectors and it will soon roll out a new digital initiative; where that has been piloted, attacks on prison officers have more than halved. Will the Minister join me in welcoming that progress to put staff safety first?

I certainly welcome the progress. I would like to visit Chelmsford—I make that offer to my hon. Friend. We want to go further: she will be aware that we are supporting the private member’s Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) on emergency workers, which will increase penalties for assaults on prison officers.