Prison Officer Calls Queen's Speech Announcement Of Tougher Jail Terms A "Publicity Stunt"

14 October 2019, 17:52

"The prison service is in crisis and it was this government that have ripped the heart and soul out of it", prison officer union head tells Eddie Mair, after tougher jail terms were announced today in the Queen's speech.

Eddie said that if the government promised more prison places, he guessed that'd be good news for prison officers.

Gillan said it was not because "the prison population has been rising and the amount of prison officers has actually been going down. That's what we've been saying over the last nine years."

"There are less prison officers now than in 2010 and yet the prison population has risen. So I see this today as using nothing more than my members again as a publicity stunt. It's a populist scenario here and I've got to say we're used to our members being used as a political football whether it was under the last Labour government or whether it's under the government now.

"And it's my members are left to pick up the pieces so I hope nobody's fooled by this piece of populism."

Queen Elizabeth II announced plans for heavier jail sentences in her Queen's Speech to open Parliament
Queen Elizabeth II announced plans for heavier jail sentences in her Queen's Speech to open Parliament. Picture: PA

Eddie asked about the proposal to increase sentences for people convicted of sexual and violent offences, which is "the idea is that if they're sentenced to four years or more they'll have to serve two thirds of their sentence in prison."

Gillan replied that the sentencing is a matter for the courts, "but the reality is we've got to have the resources to deal with it."

He continued that Boris Johnson has "announced an additional 20,000 police officers which would increase conviction rates, but members are still picking the pieces up. There's been no indication they're going to increase the number of prison officers."

"It's this government, actually, that have ripped the heart and soul out of the criminal justice system and now they're saying they're going to piece is all back together and everything's going to be OK. Well the prison service is in crisis."

Gillan then referenced Sutton Prison this weekend which saw one prisoner murder another, which is under police investigation.

"Record assaults on prison officers now standing at 10,000 a year. Suicides in prison's on the up. Self-harm, the mental illness, and yet prison officers are paid a pittance, their health and safety on a daily basis is in jeopardy. And yet this government do not seem to care."