Belfast Telegraph

Prison staff numbers to be slashed in Northern Ireland

Prison staff numbers in Northern Ireland are to be slashed from 2012 as part of an “efficiency programme” bringing the service more in line with England and Wales.

Work is being carried out to overhaul jails with changes in staffing, work to boost security and a new “more efficient, effective and affordable” model.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson published a statement on the changes yesterday, particularly focusing on the recommendations made in the Billy Wright Inquiry.

He told Parliament he was satisfied there would be no repeat of the missing files episode that marred the investigation.

Lessons had also been learnt from the security failures that allowed weapons to be smuggled into HMP Maze, which was supposed to be the top security jail in Europe.

A recommendation of the inquiry was to introduce Patten-style “radical” change in staffing for the service, which has far more staff per prisoner than the rest of the UK.

Over the next few years the service will review the staffing levels and consult with the unions about changes that could lead to |redundancies.

Mr Paterson said: “The Justice Minister advises me that a Strategic Efficiency and Effectiveness Programme is being taken forward by the senior management of Northern Ireland Prison Service in consultation with the three staff associations.”

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