The number of youth custody staff has risen by almost 15% in a year, according to official statistics.
There were 1,545 full-time equivalent youth custody staff employed by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service at 30 June 2018, representing 3.2% of all prison and probation staff.
The number of FTE youth custody staff rose by 198 staff members, which equates to a 14.7% increase, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service Workforce Statistics Bulletin confirmed.
The government pledged to invest £15m to boost the numbers of staff on the frontline in Young Offender Institutions by 20 per cent.
The Youth Custody Service (YCS) was launched in April 2017, and forms a distinct arm of HMPPS. The figures cover staffing relating to Cookham Wood, Feltham, Werrington, and Wetherby Youth Offending Institutions (YOIs) as well as Medway Secure Training Centre (STC).
As at 30 June 2018, there were 47,604 staff in post in HMPPS on a full time equivalent (FTE) basis, representing a rise of 4,201 staff in post and an increase of 9.7% since 30 June 2017 and 1,069 or 2.3% since 31 March 2018.
The need for more staff was highlighted in the HM Inspectorate of Prisons Children in Custody 2016–17 report published in November.
The report said: "The impact of staffing constraints appears to have been more keenly felt by children this year. In YOIs, boys reported poorer access to showers and telephones, and this is hardly surprising. We have found far too many boys being locked in their cells for more than 22 hours each day, with staff struggling to manage the complexities of regimes where some boys can only be allowed out of their cells while others are locked up."
"Last year I invited those with the responsibility to develop and improve policy to take our findings seriously. I trust that the realignment of responsibilities between the Youth Justice Board, the Ministry of Justice commissioners of services and the new Youth Custody Service within HM Prison and Probation Service will lead to improvement, and that the process of restructuring and reform will not detract from the urgent need for an effective operational response to the issues raised in this report," said chief inspector Peter Clarke. " The need for this to be the case has actually increased, particularly when it comes to improving both the perceptions and the reality of safety. Until this is addressed, the broader objectives of delivering education, training and creating a rehabilitative environment will not be achieved."