Belfast Telegraph

Ford commends commitment of Prison Service recruits

Stormont Executive press releases - Department of Justice

Justice Minister David Ford has paid tribute to the commitment and dedication of the new recruits to the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS).

The Minister was speaking at the graduation ceremony of the final tranche of Custody Officers who have joined NIPS in the past ten months. 17 new recruits ‘passed out’ today, leaving the total number of new recruits to have successfully completed their initial phase of training at 307.

The Prison Service is undergoing a major change programme at present, including in the composition of its staff, and has seen over 440 of its long serving staff take Voluntary Early Retirement over the last sixteen months.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony at the Prison Service College in Millisle the Minister said: “This is the final batch of Custody Officers to have successfully completed their initial eight week training phase and like the 290 graduates before them, they will now be placed in a prison establishment to gain operational experience.

“The Prison Service is presently on a pathway of fundamental change and I have been impressed by the calibre and commitment of the new recruits to the Service. Over many difficult years dedicated and loyal officers gave unstinting and valuable dedication and we have every reason to be thankful to them.

“But a modern Service needs new blood and refreshing the workforce is a central plank in the NIPS reform agenda. I congratulate this final batch of recruits on completing the first element of their training and I wish them a successful career in what is a challenging, but rewarding environment.” 

Notes to editors:

1. This is the 16th group of new Custody Officers to graduate since training began in September 2012. The first graduation ceremony was at the end of October last year. 

2. As well as the 307 new recruits, some 70 Prisoner Escorting and Court Custody Staff (PECCS) are transferring to the Custody Officer grade. They are presently undergoing training. 

3. The starting salary for Custody Officers is £18,000 rising to £23,000.

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