Prison open day aims to solve recruitment crisis

The £150million "superjail" was opened in 2014
The £150million "superjail" was opened in 2014

A north-east superjail will host an open day this month in an attempt to tackle its staffing crisis.

HMP and YOI Grampian wants to give prospective staff an insight into life as a prison officer.

Earlier this year, the Press and Journal revealed the number of full-time prison officers at HMP Grampian had fallen from 241 in January 2016 to 203 in December 2018.

And new figures from the Scottish Prison Service show employee numbers dropped to just 195 during the summer.

On top of that, between July 2018 and February this year there were 113 violent incidents at the facility, 23 of which involved staff being assaulted.

At the time, North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald linked the staffing issues with the assaults, and said it was likely there had been implications on the safe management of the prison due to the “stretched” resources.

© DC Thomson
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

Last night, he welcomed news of the recruitment event on June 11.

He said: “I welcome this initiative, to recruit prison officers by giving people the opportunity to see HMP Grampian for themselves.

“There are wider challenges for the prison service as a whole, when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff, and Scottish Government ministers must listen to the concerns being raised with them nationally by the prison officers’ union.”

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary, said it was an important step for the prison service to make.

© Supplied
Liam Kerr

He said: “Most recent figures have shown that staffing levels are well below the numbers at the jail three years ago.

“That puts enormous strain on those working at the prison, and increases the risk of violent incidents.

“I have met many officers in the last few years and have always been impressed by their dedication, pride and public service.

“This is a vital role serving our country and I commend those who choose this career.”

Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson echoed that, and said he was pleased the service was taking steps to recruit staff.

He said: “Prison staff work extremely hard in what can be a challenging, but rewarding, role. I would encourage people with the necessary experience to apply.”

An SPS spokeswoman said: “By holding the event we are aiming to encourage as many potential applicants as possible to support the future workforce of HMP & YOI Grampian.

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“We understand that when it comes to the thought of a career, working in the prison service may not jump to the forefront of people’s minds but it is an profession that can offer a range of benefits.

“Our prison officers come to us with all kinds of work and life experience and have a huge amount of transferable skills that can be reinvigorated and developed by our intensive training programme.”

The family centre and help hub at the prison will be open from 11am to 1.45pm and from 4pm to 7pm on June 11 for people to find out about the various roles and vacancies.

For more information contact 01779 485664 or e-mail