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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

September 2, 2009: Prison Officers To Have Degrees?

The Howard League for Penal Reform has released a report recommending that prison officers are educated to degree level in order better to manage prisons and reduce reoffending rates. At present, prison officers undergo eight weeks training before taking responsibility for safety and security within a prison. Prison officers have to deal with a wide range of range of complicated issues each requiring different skills and knowledge; for example, 80% of prisoners have mental health problems and 55% of those received into custody are problematic drug users.

The report, Turnkeys or professionals? A vision for the 21st century prison officer, also found that demands on prison officers are growing as the prison population increases. Between 2000 and 2006 the prison population increased by 24% while the number of prison officers only increased by 9%

The Howard League believes more needs to be done to prepare prison officers and create safer, dynamic prisons. The prison officer's job should be compared to that of a social worker, nurse or a teacher, which over the years have all become professions. By withholding crucial training and education, The Howard League for Penal Reform believes that the prison service is failing its staff and putting them at risk.

This report comes at a crucial time as the Ministry of Justicecurrently seeks to downgrade the role of the prison officer as part of its workforce modernisation plans. The prison service is already chronically under-resourced, under-staffed and over-stretched and making further cuts while the prison population continues to increase will only worsen reoffending rates, creating more victims of crime. The Howard League for Penal Reform proposes that prison officers are educated to a higher level and paid accordingly.

Howard League director Frances Crook said:

“Day in, day out, prison officers are faced with difficult and perilous situations with only eight weeks’ training to draw on. Prisons are violent and dangerous places, full of very vulnerable and damaged individuals. Prison officers need comprehensive and thorough training to deal with prisoners’ mental health and offending behaviour needs, as well as prepare prisoners for safe resettlement."

“The prison officer currently has to help prisoners with everything from housing to finances and from detoxification to anger management, all within a horribly complex framework of legislation. Eight weeks is not enough time to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to fulfil this hugely challenging and complicated role."

“As the government wants 50% of the population to go to university, it is time for the prison officer to join the ranks of the degree-educated professions.”