Concerns over cut in officers at Doncaster jails

Riot officers arriving at Moorland Prison
Riot officers arriving at Moorland Prison
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The number of prison officers in Doncaster’s jails has been cut by nearly 200 in the last three years, figures reveal.

The statistics revealed by the Howard League for Prison Reform come at a time when concerns have been raised over the number of inmates going on the run from Hatfield Prison in the borough.

According the charity, officer numbers at HMP Doncaster fell 10 per cent from 204 to 184 between September 2010 and September 13. At HMP Linholme the numbers were down 38 per cent from 240 to 150 and the figure for officers at HMP Moorland was down by 28 per cent from 305 to 220.

Concerns over the borough’s prisons have been brought to the fore after seven inmates absconded from Hatfield open prison in seven weeks. It prompted Don Valley MP Caroline Flint to meet with the jail’s governor this week to raise local concerns.

And Moorland Prison hit the headlines during the period for which the figures cover, when prisoners rioted over a three night period in 2010.

The findings are published in the Howard League’s latest research briefing paper, Breaking point: Understaffing and overcrowding in prisons. It warns that suicides, assaults and riots will become increasingly common unless urgent action is taken to increase officer numbers and reduce prisoner numbers.

Howard League chief executive Frances Crook said: “The prison system is at breaking point. Everyone should be concerned at the crisis in prisons as when people come out of jail they are more likely to inflict more crime on us.

“Ministers and various MPs have used different figures to try to minimise the impact of prison closures, but the statistics in this report show the true picture.

“Governors, inspectors and prison officers are joining the Howard League in warning the government that prisons are not just failing, they are dangerous.

“Violence and drug use is out of control and we will all suffer the consequences. This is the most irresponsible Government penal policy in a generation.”

No comment was available from the ministry of justice