Warrington's HMP Risley could lose 100 posts due to budget cuts

HMP Risley Governor Jerry Spence said news of the job cuts will cause "immense anxiety"

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More than 100 jobs are set to be cut at a Cheshire prison as the government tries to shave £2.3m off its budget.

Staff at HMP Risley in Warrington have been told a 15% reduction in posts is proposed as part of efforts to reduce the prison's £19.2m budget.

In November the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) called for extra funding for the jail due to concerns about overstretched staff and "unfit" units.

The Prison Service said security and safety will not be compromised.

The Prison Officers' Association said there could also be job losses at HMP Liverpool, Young Offenders Institute Lancaster Farms in Preston, and HMP Kennet in Maghull, Merseyside.

'Work constructively'

Risley governor Jerry Spence said in a staff briefing notice: "The scale of the reductions were a genuine surprise to the senior management team and me.

"In particular the number of posts that are reduced will cause an immense amount of anxiety among many of you.

"It is my priority to ensure that we continue to achieve and maintain a safe, decent and secure prison for staff and prisoners, I will not compromise on this."

Michael Spurr, of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said: "We will never do anything to compromise the security and safety of prisons, but we are committed to reducing costs for the taxpayer.

"Where this means reducing staff numbers, we will work constructively with trade unions to avoid compulsory redundancies as far as possible."

HMP Risley, which houses 1,085 male prisoners including lifers and sex offenders, is one of the largest Category C training prisons in the UK.

IMB inspectors found prisoners were spending up to 22 hours a day in cells, and drugs and violence were on the increase due to budget cuts, in a report published in November.

Under the new proposals, all prisoners cells will be unlocked between 08:00 and 18:15, with full time activities on offer.

Mr Spencer said: "There is no detail as to how this will be achieved in full as there is no new investment identified, this will be a challenge for the senior management team and I to address."

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