Press Statement from Prison Officers Association, 6 March 2015 Minister Fitzgerald needs to check on figures presented in the Seanad
The Prison Officers’ Association is deeply concerned at some of the points in Minister Fitzgerald’s response to Senator John Whelan’s questions this week (3rd of March) in the Seanad.
The Minister wrongly stated that there has been a 3% reduction in Prison Staff since 2011. The Prison Officers Association dispute that figure as it does not accurately depict the reduction in Prison Officer numbers since the commencement of the Transformation agenda since 2010 where a figure of at least 8% is more accurate. This reduction was consequent upon accurate categorisation of prisoners and rigorous implementation of regimes appropriate to the behaviour of prisoners which has the ensuing benefit of staff safety. Unfortunately a series of unilateral decisions has put this process in danger and has resulted in this ballot for Prison Officer Safety. Since 2009 prison officers numbers have dropped from 3441 to 3157; a reduction of over 8%. We fully appreciate that the Minister was provided with this 3% figure by Prison Service officials.
The Minister indicated that we have 800 less prisoners incarcerated now as compared to 2011. Any such reduction is based on a ‘numbers reduction policy’ and not a proper sentence management policy. Such an approach is deeply flawed and not without significant risk.
The Minister has also stated in the Seanad that she has contacted the General Secretary. While this is true, unfortunately she has refused to meet with the Prison Officers Association on the very serious wider issues impacting on the service.
The Minister stated that savings have to be made under Haddington Road. The record shows that the Prison Officers Association has a proven track record of delivery on past agreements – and this is well recognised throughout the public service and the representative sector.