Northern Ireland

Prison service confirms up to 500 jobs could be cut

Colin McConnell
Image caption Director General Colin McConnell has confirmed the job losses

The director general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service has confirmed that up to 500 prison officers could be made redundant as part of a reform programme.

Colin McConnell said on Tuesday that change in the prison service had already started.

A severance package was one of a number of recommendations in an interim report published by a review team in February.

The BBC reported then that jobs could be lost.

Mr McConnell said details of the staff exit scheme were yet to be finalised.

"We are working on bringing forward an exit scheme for our staff so they can consider to make a positive decision if they so choose to leave the service," he said.

Almost 1800 prison officers work in NI prisons - plus just over 400 civilian staff - with fewer than 1600 prisoners to supervise.

The annual cost of keeping a prisoner in jail is £95,000.

This is more than double the cost in England, Scotland and Wales.

A letter was sent to all prison officers in February setting out the need for change, and confirming that a redundancy scheme would be launched in the autumn.

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