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Prison Service Pay Review Body: Recommendation 3 and Prison Safety

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 16 March 2021

What assessment he has made of the potential effect on prison safety of the decision to reject the Prison Service Pay Review Body’s recommendation 3. (913478)

Prison safety and security is a key priority. The Government are investing £100 million to introduce robust measures such as x-ray body scanners and phone blocking technology, as well as tools such as body-worn cameras and PAVA spray. On pay, in July 2020 the Government accepted in full six out of seven recommendations made by the Prison Service pay review body, delivering an increase in pay of at least 2.5% for all Prison Service staff, from those working on the gate through to those on the landings.

We heard at last month’s Justice questions that rejecting this expert advice will undermine prison safety and is, in fact, a false economy, because once tax receipts and staff retention are taken into consideration this pay rise practically pays for itself, so what is the real reason for denying prison officers pay justice? Is it because the Treasury is worried it will encourage other public sector workers to demand a decent pay rise too?

It is important to note that six out of the seven recommendations were accepted in full. The freeze will not apply to those people earning under £24,000. When it comes to safety, which was the central premise of the hon. Lady’s question, we have to consider the conditions that make a difference to those valuable and professional officers on the landings. Do they feel safe? Do they have a body-worn camera? Do they have SPEAR—spontaneous protection enabling accelerated response—personal safety training? That is what we want to focus on, so they can get the protection they deserve.