Justice Committee launches web forum on prison officers

24 March 2009

The Justice Committee has launched a web forum to seek the views of prison officers, and those they work with, on the challenges facing prison officers working in today's Prison Service.

An ageing prison population, high levels of drug and alcohol abuse and the psychiatric and other problems of many prisoners are all placing unprecedented demands on prison officers, in addition to the workload of an increasing prison population and the serious problem of overcrowding.

This forum will run until 5 May 2009 and the Committee is hoping prison officers and those who work, and have contact, with them will take this opportunity to share their experiences with the Committee. The Committee are seeking views on questions such as what role prison officers have in the rehabilitation of prisoners, how well the training and development currently provided meets the needs of prison officers and what impact the proposed "titan prisons" and workplace modernisation initiative will have on prison officers' ability to do their jobs.

Personal registration details will not be made public. The posts received on the site, along with written and oral evidence gathered during the inquiry, will help shape the recommendations the Committee makes in its eventual report to the Ministry of Justice.

Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

"Debates about prison overcrowding and the role of prison sentences in crime reduction rarely take account of the increased demands placed on the people who have to balance 'control' and 'care' in looking after prisoners from day to day. A prison officer is not just a turnkey but an enforcer, reformer and, at all times, a potential role model. We want to develop a better understanding of the real demands of the job and we want to hear from prison officers, and others, about their most effective contribution to reducing re-offending and reforming persistent criminals."

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