Proposed agreement for prison safety and reform programme

Government proposals to improve pay and pensions for frontline staff have been endorsed by Prison Officers’ Association (POA) leaders.

The offer to prison staff, which the POA will now put to a membership ballot, followed talks with the Prison Service.

It includes:

• a reduction in the retirement age by up to three years – from 68 to 65;
• an improved pay proposal covering the next three years;
• a retention and recognition package totalling £1,000.

The offer forms part of a wider drive to improve training and promotion prospects for all staff, and ensure prison officers are recognised and properly rewarded for the challenging work that they do.

Today’s announcement comes after the Justice Secretary announced a major package of reforms, including an additional £100m annually to boost the numbers of frontline staff. This will result in more than 2,500 additional officers joining the service by 2018 to increase safety and deliver vital reforms to cut reoffending.

The proposals discussed with the POA will mean governors are given greater freedoms to settle a wide range of issues – including staff, health and safety and the running of the prison – and manage employee relations locally with staff associations, helping to bring disputes to quick resolutions.

This delivers on a key reform as announced in the Prison Safety and Reform White Paper, which will see governors given greater authority to run their prisons in the way they think best – moving power from the centre. The Prison Service has also responded to a number of health and safety issues raised by the union.

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

"This agreement is a good offer which rightly recognises the hard work and dedication of officers across the country doing a tough job. I am pleased the POA’s leadership has endorsed the package, which forms part of a wider drive to improve training and promotion prospects for staff. We want to make sure that prison officers are properly recognised and rewarded for the challenging work they do.

"If accepted by members this is a deal which will benefit thousands of prison officers who I hugely respect and for whom I want to see safe working conditions.

"Since entering office, I have been clear that my number one priority is making prison places of safety and reform. I look forward to working closely with frontline staff to drive forward this ambitious reform programme."

The Prison Service remains in discussions with the Prison Governors Association over pay and pension arrangements in advance of submitting its evidence to the Prison Service Pay Review Body.