Large rise in the number of youth custody staff

Derren Hayes
Thursday, August 16, 2018

The number of people working in the youth secure estate has risen significantly following a government recruitment drive over the past 12 months, latest official data shows.

Prison service workforce figures published this week by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that on 30 June 2018 there were 1,545 full time equivalent (FTE) workers employed by the Youth Custody Service, 198 more than in June 2017.

The figure represents a 14.7 per cent increase in FTE youth custody staff over the past year, the largest rise of any staff group across the secure estate.

Youth Custody Service staff now make up 3.2 per cent of the total prison service workforce.

The rise coincides with a £65m campaign by the government to boost the size of the youth custody workerforce and status of practitioners working in young offender institutions (YOI) and secure training centres.

The Ministry of Justice has a target to increase by 20 per cent frontline staff working in England's four YOI by the end of the year. 

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Meanwhile, last October, the prison officer graduate recruitment scheme was extended to the youth secure estate

The Unlocked Graduates scheme offers graduates a two-year master's degree to become a youth custody officer. Unlocked said the aim of the initiative is to improve support for vulnerable young people held in custody, reduce reoffending, and improve rehabilitation.

The MoJ data also shows that in the year to 30 June 2018, 366 new staff joined the Youth Custody Service while 137 left the service. The number of youth custody staff leaving was 12 per cent lower than the figure in June 2017. 

The need for more staffing in youth custody was highlighted last November by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which reported that a lack of frontline officers meant young people were being locked in cells for more than 22 hours a day and were also missing out on vital support.

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