HR boss slams use of police cells as quick fix for UK’s prison crisis

The use of police cells to house prisoners has been condemned by the HR director of the Prison Service.

Gareth Hadley insisted police officers should not be doing the jobs of prison officers as they had been selected and trained in a vastly different way.

The UK’s jails have reached bursting point over the past two weeks, with a number of prisoners being held at police stations. The Home Office has called the response “necessary and pragmatic”, and said up to 520 police cells could be used during October and November.

But Hadley told Personnel Today: “It’s not good. I hope to see an end to it soon. Prison officers are recruited and trained for their aptitude at getting on with people – often angry, dysfunctional people. Police officers are not.

“The police also tend to be victim-focused, whereas prison officers are convict-focused and are not seen as ‘the enemy’ by prisoners.”

The nature of police stations made it harder to manage inmates, he added.

“Police cells are designed to accommodate people for short periods. Some of the interventions we use in prison are unavailable when prisoners are at police stations,” Hadley said.

Two weeks ago, the UK prison population reached an all-time high of 79,779. The government has faced criticism after unveiling its plans to create additional space. As well as the use of police cells, ideas have included creating offshore prison ships and offering foreign criminals packages worth up to £2,500 to leave the UK.

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