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Sam Gyimah visits HMP Leeds to hear concerns from the frontline

 Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah today paid tribute to the vital work of the Governor and staff at HMP Leeds in part of a nationwide tour of prisons to hear concerns from staff on the frontline.

The visit comes just weeks after the Justice Secretary announced a major package of reforms to improve safety – including an additional £100m to bolster frontline staff by 2,500.


HMP Leeds is already making improvements to safety and security thanks to £240,000 of funding from the Government this year. This includes extra money to roll out CCTV across the wings, as well as new safety measures to stop illegal contraband being thrown over the prison walls.

Today the Prisons Minister sat down with the Governor and prison officers at HMP Leeds to hear first-hand the challenges they face and how the reforms and increased investment is helping.

Speaking after the visit, the Minister said:

“Prison officers at HMP Leeds do a very important job – I have huge respect for the vital work they do in helping to make prisons safe and decent places to live and work, and reform offenders.

“When it comes to really understanding the challenges faced by staff day in and day out, nothing beats seeing operations at close quarters. I came here today to make sure staff know I’m committed to giving them the support they need to do their jobs safely and securely.”

Last month, the Justice Secretary announced £14 million for extra resources at ten of the most challenging prisons in England and Wales. This will mean an extra 400 staff to help curbs rising levels of violence and self-harm fuelled by dangerous psychoactive substances. Half of these are already in place.

The major reforms announced this month will also give governors and staff more powers over education, work and health budgets so they can tailor support to the prisoners in their charge.

HMP Leeds is already doing innovative work in this area, including the opening of a new ‘Fusion Kitchen’ in the prison this December, which will see prisoners take part in valuable vocational work to gain the skills and qualifications needed to get work in the catering industry on release.

Sam Gyimah said:

“HMP Leeds is a fantastic example of the prison Governor and officers working together to achieve great things.

“The innovative work that the Governor and staff are already doing at Leeds to help prisoners turn their backs on crime is exactly what we want to see across the prison estate as we embark upon the biggest prisons overhaul in a generation.”

“I want to see all prisons becoming places of hard work and discipline where offenders are given the help they need to turn their lives around.”

In the coming months, the Justice Secretary and Prisons Minister will be visiting prisons nationwide to continue their discussions with prison officers and governors.

As well as listening to staff there will also be a new recruitment drive aimed at getting top graduates and former servicemen and women into frontline positions.

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