“We were all inexperienced once” was the answer given to the Stockton North MP today during questions to the Ministry of Justice after he raised concerns about 18 year olds replacing experienced prisons officers at Stockton’s Holme House prison.
Speaking in the Commons earlier today, Alex Cunningham asked:
“The Minister will be aware of the major drug finds and related problems at Holme House Prison in my constituency which has seen experienced officers leave and replaced by 18 year old recruits.
“Does the Minister really think that recruiting youngsters is the answer to meet the needs of our increasing prison population, the answer to tackle drugs, or solve the crisis in the service?”
Sam Gyimah MP, the Prisons Minister, responded by saying that “we were all inexperienced once” in an attempt to justify criminals being looked after by officers straight out of school.
Speaking after the questions to the Ministry for Justice, Alex said:
“Holme House is facing tremendous problems. In the last few months alone drugs have been found 81 times and on one occasion there was a haul of nearly six kilos of Spice worth £200,000; the prison has, in common with others, seen increased violence; and last month a prisoner was found hanged in his cell.
“For the Minister to dismiss the very real concerns of prison officers with his off-the-cuff remark demonstrates either utter complacency or a total lack of understanding of what our prisons need.
“These kind of incidents show being a prison officer is a challenging and dangerous job and is very different to starting an apprenticeship in an engineering company or working in a call centre. We need highly-trained experts looking after the inmates – the minister’s response simply isn’t good enough.”
For further information, please contact Alex’s office on 020 7219 7157