Forest Bank prison 'dangerous' after 100 staff lost in cuts

The Bolton News: Forest Bank Prison. Picture from Google Maps. Forest Bank Prison. Picture from Google Maps.

The number of officers at a local prison has dropped by more than 100 in three years, making it a “dangerous” place, according to bosses of a reform charity.

It follows the publication of figures which showed the number of prison officers in the North West has fallen by 32 per cent.

Forest Bank Prison in Agecroft Road, Swinton — where many Bolton offenders are housed — had 204 prison officers in September, 2013 compared to 310 in September, 2010.

The Howard League for Penal Form (HLPR), which obtained the figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), said the drop coincided with a rise in the number of prisoners and “an alarming rise” in self-inflicted deaths in custody.

But an MoJ spokesman disputed the figures, claiming the criticism is politically motivated.

HLPR 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 have used different figures to try to minimise the impact of prison closures, but the statistics show the true picture.

“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.”

Mrs Crook added that one problem was that 18 prisons have closed and 6,500 prison places lost since mid-2010, while the number of convicts keeps on rising.

So far this year 43 people have taken their own lives in UK prisons, compared with 33 at the same point last year.

In 2013, the suicide rate was the highest in six years and the number of serious assaults was 25 per cent higher than 2012.

The MoJ spokesman said: “These are flawed and inaccurate figures from a left-wing pressure group, which can’t see past its dislike of this government.

“These figures present a misleading picture estate.

“Our approach to staffing levels has been agreed with the unions to ensure we run safe, efficient and decent prisons with prison officers back in frontline roles where they are most needed.

“Where there are local staffing issues, we are taking action to resolve this, including a widespread recruitment campaign and the creation of a reserve force of officers who can be used nationally when required.”

Comments (3)

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7:59pm Mon 14 Jul 14

the need for austerity is a myth says...

Congratulations to the anonymous MOJ spokesperson for completely ignoring the fact that Forest Bank is a privately owned, profit making establishment and therefore outside of any national recruiting initiatives. And massive congrats to the biased BN for allowing the anonymous MOJ spokesperson to get on a political soapbox rather than forcing them to produce a reasoned argument that addresses the facts.
Congratulations to the anonymous MOJ spokesperson for completely ignoring the fact that Forest Bank is a privately owned, profit making establishment and therefore outside of any national recruiting initiatives. And massive congrats to the biased BN for allowing the anonymous MOJ spokesperson to get on a political soapbox rather than forcing them to produce a reasoned argument that addresses the facts. the need for austerity is a myth
  • Score: 10

5:21am Tue 15 Jul 14

Snakestail says...

The private security company that run this facility walk over the futile toothless Union like a truck running over a hedgehog. Then they say that in agreement with the Union we have blah blah blah as if the Union had any power whatsoever to amend, stop or even confirm anything because they are an irrelevant body that will lie down and die rather than look after the staff. So the staff get screwed, their workload increased while their money never increases to compensate for it. Their staff numbers decline and the one's that keep their jobs are too worried about losing them to complain. The owner/operators of this facility has the staff by the nads and know that the union are nothing more than a glove puppet with their hands up its rear end controlling what the Union says to the public. When you get a break out or a riot or the injury to a prison officer, maybe someone in government, whether it be local or national, may take an interest and of course begin an enquiry, which will take three years at a waste of several millions of taxpayer's money to conclude what we know now.

The staff levels are woefully inadequate, the owner/operators don't care...they have a board of directors to appease and profits to make.
The private security company that run this facility walk over the futile toothless Union like a truck running over a hedgehog. Then they say that in agreement with the Union we have blah blah blah as if the Union had any power whatsoever to amend, stop or even confirm anything because they are an irrelevant body that will lie down and die rather than look after the staff. So the staff get screwed, their workload increased while their money never increases to compensate for it. Their staff numbers decline and the one's that keep their jobs are too worried about losing them to complain. The owner/operators of this facility has the staff by the nads and know that the union are nothing more than a glove puppet with their hands up its rear end controlling what the Union says to the public. When you get a break out or a riot or the injury to a prison officer, maybe someone in government, whether it be local or national, may take an interest and of course begin an enquiry, which will take three years at a waste of several millions of taxpayer's money to conclude what we know now. The staff levels are woefully inadequate, the owner/operators don't care...they have a board of directors to appease and profits to make. Snakestail
  • Score: 7

8:56am Tue 15 Jul 14

Where'swally says...

A friend of mine got sent here in 2000 when it was still quite new and he said for his first prison experience it wasnt bad at all as the staff were all from a private company they could literally be walked all over... he said when it kicked off they would ask you nicely to stop what you're doing... he's never been back since but said forest bank was a joke. and from all accounts if this was a proper prison it would be more strict etc. lack of staff equals more to get away with by the detainess...
A friend of mine got sent here in 2000 when it was still quite new and he said for his first prison experience it wasnt bad at all as the staff were all from a private company they could literally be walked all over... he said when it kicked off they would ask you nicely to stop what you're doing... he's never been back since but said forest bank was a joke. and from all accounts if this was a proper prison it would be more strict etc. lack of staff equals more to get away with by the detainess... Where'swally
  • Score: 6
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