An extra 2,500 prison staff will be recruited to tackle drug abuse and violence against staff and inmates, as unions says a shortage of personnel has left jails in England and Wales facing "bloodbaths."
Justice Secretary Liz Truss will announce on Thursday (3 November) a recruitment drive comprising of a 15% boost in prison officer numbers. With more than 85,000 prisoners in jail, figures show that assaults on staff and inmates had risen 40% in the past year to 65 a day.
Truss will say the extra officers "will help us crack down on the toxic cocktail of drugs, drones and mobile phones that are flooding our prisons, imperilling the safety of staff and offenders and thwarting reform".
There will be also drug testing of all offenders and "no-fly zones" over jails to stop drones dropping drugs and other contraband over the prison wall.
Steve Gillan, of the Prison Officers Association, said he wanted her reform plans to include prisoner searches as well as greater investment and that £900m had been taken out of the service since 2010.
"We are not accepting any crumbs from the table. The last thing that we want to see is more carnage and bloodbaths, and a prison officer loses his life," he said, according to the BBC.
His union has more than 35,000 members across England and Wales and recently threatened to stage industrial action in protest against the government.
A government white paper will outline plans for a prison for 1,000-plus inmates at Wellingborough, new powers for governors, testing of offenders' levels of English and maths as well as the onus falling on the justice secretary to take over failing prisons, The Guardian reported.
"It is absolutely right that prisons punish people who commit serious crimes by depriving them of their most fundamental right: liberty.
"However, our reoffending rates have remained too high for too long. So prisons need to be more than places of containment – they must be places of discipline, hard work and self improvement. They must be places where offenders get off drugs and get the education and skills they need to find work and turn their back on crime for good." she is expected to say.