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SNP fails to keep prison officers safe and well

The Scottish Conservatives have accused the SNP of failing to keep prison officers safe and well after it has emerged that prison officer sick days have increased by almost 50 percent over the last four years.

In a freedom of information response, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has confirmed that the number of sick days Scottish prison officers have taken over the last year was 54,995; a massive increase from the 30,704 days taken in 2015-16.

Just as worryingly, the number of sick days taken by Scottish prison staff has risen from 46,043 in 2015-16 to a whopping 70,018 over last year.

These enormous, and steady increases mean that the SPS has lost 125,013 staff days over the last year alone.

Over the last few years assaults on prison officers have also been rising significantly as prisons struggle to deal with the influx of illegal drugs and mobile phones.

This culminated in the prison officer’s union, the Prison Officers Association Scotland, agreeing to organise a ballot on industrial action just last month.

The Scottish Conservatives have raised serious concerns at this shocking rise and the SNP’s failure to keep prison officers safe and well.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary said:

 

“It is no coincidence at all that prison officer sick days have been rising at the same time as assaults on prison officers.

“Our prison workforce is clearly struggling almost to breaking point.

“Prison staff must be given proper physical and mental support to deal with the significant pressure of the job.

“Sadly, these figures would suggest that currently the SNP is not providing the back up officers they need.

“The SNP has failed to provide body-worn cameras to officers as a matter of routine, even though they are a deterrent to an attack and can provide evidence if needed.

“The SNP has a duty to keep prison staff safe and well – it is increasingly failing on both counts.”

Ends

Notes to editors: details from the Freedom of Information response are below

SPS Annual Absence Figures *

2014-2015

2015-2016

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

RF1 Prison Officers Sick Days **

-

30,704

39,065

48,863

54,955

RF2 SPS Staff Sick Days **

46,527

46,043

51,824

61,856

70,018

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