Prison officers get pay rise in bid to boost dangerously low staffing levels

Credit: PA
  • Video report by ITV News political correspondent Paul Brand

Thousands of prison officers will receive a pay rise to help boost staffing numbers, the Government have announced.

Frontline personnel at 31 jails across London and the South East will earn up to £5000 more under a £12 million package announced by Justice Secretary Liz Truss.

The move comes as staff levels at jails across the UK drop to a dangerous level amid surging levels of violence in prisons.

The Government hope the cash incentive will help prison officer recruitment and retention after figures released last week showed officer numbers fell again last year.

The new package, which is part of wide-ranging prison reforms, will see pay improved for guards at jails where recruitment has proved most difficult.

New recruits will can expect to receive starting salaries of up to £29,500 - a rise of £5,000.

Ms Truss said: "Prison officers do a challenging and demanding job day in and day out.

"I want frontline staff to know that their work, experience and loyal service is valued.

"We also want to attract the best new talent into the service, ensuring we recruit and retain the leaders of the future."

Union chiefs have repeatedly warned of low morale across the service as assaults, self-harm and suicides in prisons rise to record levels.

On Thursday official figures revealed the number of personnel in key operational roles in public sector prisons in England and Wales fell by more than 300 to 17,888 last year.

The leaving rate of contracted staff has almost doubled since 2012/13.