Colin Moses, National Chairman of the POA said;
“There has been a significant lack of investment in our prisons for many years and the problems are stacking up. We currently have serious staff shortfalls throughout the service and as new places become available they are immediately filled, this is placing the staff and prisoners alike under tremendous pressure. I often ask myself, how many custodial warrants are outstanding because as a prison place is available a prisoner appears. So are the public really safe or are the police only executing warrants dependant on prison and police cell spaces? We are aware that the Ministry of Justice have instructed all Governors to send prisoners to open prisons. It is believed that all open prisons will be operating at around 95% capacity. To the POA that can only mean one thing; open prisons will be dangerous places to work in and the public in surrounding areas will be at risk."Brian Caton, General Secretary of the POA said:
“The problems of overcrowding are not new; and the problems we face today are as a direct result of the lack of real investment for new prisons over the last 10 years. If things continue as they are we will see more and more unsuitable and dangerous prisoners released early and public safety will be at risk."Responding to the Prison Officer Association’s concerns that some criminals may be going free because of insufficient prison places to house them, Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said:
"The Police Federation has long warned that with a rising criminal population and more arrests being made by police, more prisons are needed. The simple fact is that if prison overcrowding is resulting in sentences being cut even further than they already are, then the Criminal Justice System is failing victims of crime and further demoralising frontline officers who see those they have brought to justice out again before the paperwork is even completed.Not happy bunnies are they? Should we be seriously concerned about public safety? Given the opinion of what I consider to be "men in the know" I am most definitely concerned.
"The safety of the public is paramount and it is essential that those convicted of crime serve their full sentences. Rest assured, police officers will continue to arrest and charge those they consider a danger to society. We will not, as has been suggested, limit the execution of warrants and arrests to suit a political agenda that wishes to do anything to ease the burden on overcrowded prisons."