Prison staff are suffering from more stress-related illnesses following cuts to the workforce, according to new figures.
Prison staff in England and Wales took off 54,519 days due to stress in 2014-15 – up from 53,290 the year before and 46,886 in 2012-13, figures obtained by the Press Association under Freedom of Information laws show.
Tip of the iceberg
Frances Crook, chief executive of The Howard League for Penal Reform, said the figures were just “the tip of the iceberg” and warned that the service is in crisis.
Between 2010 and 2011, 51,649 days were taken off due to stress by prison workers and in 2011-12, 50,051 were lost.
At HMP Downview, an all-women prison, each member of staff took an average of 4.7 days off due to stress in 2014-15 – the highest rate in the country.
Staff at HMP Leicester each had 4.3 days off with stress-related illness during this period, and workers at HMP Feltham had 4.1.
Ms Crook said many employees were “reticent” to report stress-related illness and warned that rates could be much higher.
Health and safety concerns
During the last five years the prison workforce has shrunk by almost 30%, from 46,090 members of staff in 2010-11 to 32,430 in 2014-15.
Ms Crook said a lack of staff and management in “overwhelmed” prisons had increased pressure on workers.
In May, staff at Wormwood Scrubs prison walked out over health and safety concerns following a number of assaults on staff.
Date Published: June 26, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown