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Prison Officers

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 148973, tabled on 3 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the net change in the number of prison officers in England was in (a) 2018, (b) 2019 and (c) 2020.

Answered on

12 February 2021

Prison officers play an essential role in keeping the public safe and protecting those in our care. The Staff in Post and net change in number of Band 3 to 5 prison officers in England only is given in the following tables.

As part of Prison Safety and Reform White Paper published in November 2016, the Prison Officer Recruitment Programme was tasked with delivering a net increase of 2500 prison officers by the end of the 2018 which accounts for the significant staffing increase at end September 2018. This recruitment target was achieved in early 2018 ahead of schedule.

We have continued to deliver recruitment campaigns to fill existing posts and vacancies arising due to attrition however, the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on social distancing and non-essential travel impacted on our ability to recruit and train new officers during 2020.

We have taken a range of measures to mitigate against further delays, including introducing a new online recruitment assessment centre and a targeted project to accelerate recruitment activity. In addition, HMPPS has also invited former prison officers to return to the service temporarily.

Table 1 - Net change in number of Band 3-5 prison officers1 in England2 only


Net change in headcount

Net change in Full Time Equivalent

12 months to 30 September 2018



12 months to 30 September 2019



12 months to 30 September 2020



Table 2 – Number of Staff in Post of Band 3-5 prison officers1 in England2 only



Full Time Equivalent

Staff in post as at 30 September 2018



Staff in post as at 30 September 2019



Staff in post as at 30 September 2020



Notes to tables:

1. Band 3-5 Officers includes Band 3-4 / Prison Officers (incl. specialists), Band 4 / Supervising Officers, and Band 5 / Custodial Managers.

2. Excludes Wales, which is usually included in published statistics.