Belfast Telegraph

Prison officers set to get danger money: Additional security payment in pipeline amid raised dissident threat

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

Prison officers are on course to receive additional security payments amid the ongoing dissident republican threat, according to the officers' union.

More than 1,000 prison officers stand to benefit from an environmental allowance on top of their salaries.

It is understood each officer could receive up to £3,000 a year, bringing them in line with payments received by PSNI officers. It follows a two-year campaign by the Prison Officers' Association.

Its chair Finlay Spratt told the Belfast Telegraph he was confident the Prison Service's pay review body will rubber stamp the payments this week.

"We've put the case to the pay review body and we're confident we will get the allowance," he said.

"What that figure will be we don't yet know."

Mr Spratt added: "The ongoing terrorist threat is costing prison officers extra money in terms of transport and security measures at their homes. Not only that, they have to live with the constant threat these paramilitaries have placed on them.

"We would rather not have an allowance, we would rather work in a normal environment, but that's not the case."

Justice Minister David Ford previously said police officers, soldiers and prison officers remained "primary targets" for terrorist groups. He referred the issue of so-called 'environmental allowances' to the pay review body.

Should it conclude such a payment is appropriate the issue will be sent for final approval from the Department of Finance and Personnel.

Environmental allowances were previously built in to prison officers' pay. But in 2002 such allowances for new starts were stopped.

In November of last year, prison officer David Black was murdered by dissident republicans as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison.

Mr Black was the first member of the Prison Service to be killed in 20 years.

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