On 29th October 2019 Lord Lee of Trafford asked the Government “what plans they have to replace Victorian-era prisons with more modern facilities.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: I am sure that many of us will have watched some of the programmes in the “Crime and Punishment” series, which featured Her Majesty’s Prison Winchester, a Victorian prison. The programmes highlighted problems of building maintenance, staff shortages and a large number of attacks on staff—441 in the year 2018-19. Can the Minister confirm what action Her Majesty’s Government will take to address the staff shortages and training needs among prison officers generally, in addition to the prison improvements announced in recent days?
Baroness Berridge (Con): I am grateful to the right revered Prelate. I happened upon exactly that series and watched with interest the challenges faced by the—at that time—female governor of Her Majesty’s Prison Winchester. The recruitment of staff has in fact gone better than expected; 2,500 prison officers were recruited seven months ahead of schedule. However, there are increasing needs in relation to training and, particularly, violence reduction. We are keen to protect staff and have introduced body-worn cameras for them, as well as artificial pepper spray. I do accept that there have been challenges within that estate. More money is now committed to maintenance to ensure that the Victorian prisons, which we need to keep as part of our capacity, will have the repairs that they need.