Ageing prison population ‘sees officers [increasingly] working as carers’

Prison Barssource: BBC News
published: 22 October 2019

The ageing jail population has left prison officers providing care for a growing number of older inmates “dying in front of them”, officers have said.

The warning from the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) has come as new figures revealed the oldest prisoner in England and Wales was 104 years old.

The data showed there were 13,617 inmates aged above 50 out of a prison population of 82,710 in June 2019. The Prison Service said it was working to meet the needs of elderly prisoners. More and more inmates were frail, incontinent or had dementia, the POA said.

“You’re looking at young prison staff that are trained to be prison officers that are becoming carers,” said Dave, who has worked in prisons as a custodial manager for more than 30 years.

The former officer, who did not want his real name used, said when he started work older prisoners were transferred to less secure jails when they approached the end of their sentences but that had changed.

“Now you’re getting older prisoners starting big sentences and the young prison officers are coming straight from university, with very, very little life experience and then they’re having to deal with major traumatic events like somebody dying in front of them or caring for somebody that is at the end of their life.”

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