70 officers to be cut as two prison wings are closed
THE governor of Hull Prison said he expects about 70 jobs to be lost as two wings are closed.
Norman Griffin said most of the job cuts would come from officers taking early retirement or voluntary redundancy.
The cuts are being made after the Ministry of Justice decided to close the Hedon Road jail's Victorian C and D wings, leading to the loss of 282 beds.
C wing has already closed, with D wing due to shut next month.
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Mr Griffin said: "There shouldn't be any compulsory redundancies and I am working very hard with the staff and the unions to preserve as many jobs as we can.
"People will only be leaving if they want to leave. A lot of staff have expressed an interest in the early retirement package, which will help us to make sufficient savings.
"The staff took the news hard but since then, they have been brilliant. They have dusted themselves down and got on with things.
"The work done by staff on C and D wings, with the type of accommodation it was, to build relationships with the prisoners has been remarkable."
It is estimated the 70 members of staff will leave the prison before June.
After the announcement about the partial closure was made last month, prison officers expressed concern the jail could eventually be closed completely.
Mr Griffin said: "When the news came, it was a bit of a blow to staff and there was anxiety around whether this was the first part of a closure programme.
"That is not the case at all."
Prisoners who were being held in C wing have been transferred to other beds in the jail, to HMP Everthorpe, near Brough, or HMP Northallerton in North Yorkshire.
The prison is currently holding 800 men, which needs to be reduced to 760 as part of the closure programme.
Mr Griffin said: "We are trying to do it as quickly as possible, so we can say to the Ministry of Justice we have made the savings sooner rather than later.
"We didn't want the wings to close, but the accommodation on C and D wing was 150 years old and it was poor.
"I wouldn't want anyone from my family to be in prison, but if they were I certainly wouldn't want them to be on C or D wing.
"The rest of the accommodation in the prison is good. I think this will end up being a good thing for the prison and it is only happening because we all have to look after the public purse.
"It will make the prison more focused. We have a period of about six months of transition and then we can start to see the positives."
City MPs Karl Turner, who represents Hull East, and Hull West and Hessle representative Alan Johnson will meet Prison Officers Association members next week to discuss the cuts.