Calls have been made to end the “crisis” in prisons amid claims they are “more dangerous than ever” after figures showed the number of staff in post has dropped.
Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice revealed the number of staff in prisons has fallen in the last few months.
As of June 30, there were 49,334 full-time staff in post in prisons and probation services.
This was down by 548 (just over 1%) since the end of March but was more than 3% higher than a year ago.
Some 33,926 staff were working in prisons, 9,750 in probation and 1,759 working in youth custody.
The number of full-time prison officers has fallen by 309 (1.4%) since March to 22,321. But overall the number of officers working is over 700 higher (3.3%) than a year ago, according to the figures.
Labour’s shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said cuts had caused a “crisis” in prisons and claimed they were “more dangerous than ever”, adding: “It is shocking, given the record levels of violence in prisons, that the number of officers is falling yet again.
“There are already too few staff to safely manage things as they are, never mind any planned expansion.
“These cuts must be reversed and the Government needs to urgently set out a plan to tackle this exodus of experienced officers.”
A Prison Service spokesman said: “Our hard-working officers play a crucial role in keeping prisons safe and transforming offenders’ lives, and ultimately make sure the public is protected.
“We have over 700 new officers in post compared to this time last year and are working hard to retain staff and keep levels stable.
“We gave officers the biggest pay increase in a decade last year and have provided additional training and support to all staff, offering services including 24/7 counselling, trauma support and occupational health assessments.”