Prison officers could get travel costs paid

By Richard Wright

Thursday, January 31, 2013

 

CAMP Hill Prison officers who commute to work at mainland jails will have their ferry fares paid, Island MP Andrew Turner has said.

The news came from a meeting sought by Mr Turner and Parkhurst Isle of Wight Council member Richard Hollis with prisons minister Jeremy Wright to discuss the impact of Camp Hill’s closure on staff and the Island.

"The minister told us all staff were being interviewed to find out what options they will consider; moving to another prison, voluntary early departure with an enhanced payment or commuting to work to a mainland prison," said Mr Turner.

"Although that process has not finished, he hopes there will be no need for compulsory redundancies.

"One issue that a number of people have raised is that if they decide to commute to a mainland prison their ferry fares will not be covered.

"Although this would be looked at on an individual basis, I have received assurances that ferry fares would not be excluded from travel cost calculations."

He said no decisions had yet been made about the future of the Camp Hill site after the closure and he would keep in touch with the minister as plans progressed.

Ben Cooper, Camp Hill Prison Officers Association (POA) branch secretary, said even if ferry expenses were met, there was a shortage of prisons within 60 minutes travel, a prison service policy for officers.

"The closest is HMP Hasler, a detention centre in Gosport, however that has a very small staff. After that it’s Winchester, but you could not get there in an hour, which would mean officers would have to move and that would hit the Island economy."

Mr Cooper said they were nearing the end of a process in which all 750 officers, across the three prisons, had been interviewed about their options.

Once the interviews are complete, the prison service will know how many staff will leave voluntarily, or move to other prisons. They will then consider compulsory relocations, followed by compulsory redundancies.

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk

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