A north-east prison is facing the worst staffing problems of any jail in Scotland, according to bosses.
In a discussion with MSPs at Holyrood on a range of issues, Phil Fairlie from the Scottish Prison Officers’ Association said HMP Grampian was the worst affected by insufficient staffing levels.
Government funding of the prison service as a whole fell from £395 million to £345m between 2014 and 2019, while prisoner numbers rose by 9% in the last financial year.
However, it is hoped a pay deal signed earlier this year, which will increase the wages of all staff by at least 2%, will encourage more people to pursue a career in the prison service.
Mr Fairlie said: “In terms of recruitment, the biggest problem we have is in Grampian and it’s been a problem since the prison opened.
“We have always had a difficulty in terms of getting a proper staffing complement into the prison.
“We have got staff who are working in the prison service as a secondary income in the family home.
“They see it as a job rather than a career.
“I think a part of the problem is that for a lot of people, it just isn’t attractive.”
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The Scottish Prison Service’s head of corporate affairs Tom Fox revealed staff from other prisons had carried out duties at Grampian.
He said: “We have put extra resources into running a variety of different events to encourage people to apply for vacancies.
“We have been providing staff from across the estate in detached roles and we are continuing to look at ways of encouraging people to committing to going there.
“We have got a good team of people – we just need more of them.
“We have negotiated a very positive pay deal which will encourage people to look at the prison service as a long-term career option.
“We will start to see an improvement in the staffing situation as that takes effect and filters through the system.”