In December 2012 the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), part of the Ministry of Justice, announced that it was to review the future use of HMP& YOI Ashfield due to the sustained national decrease in the number of young people in custody.
That review has now been concluded by NOMS and they have confirmed to Serco, who manage and operate the facility on their behalf that with effect from 1 July, Ashfield is to undertake a new role as an Adult Male Category C prison for 400 low and medium risk male adult sex offenders. As a result all the Young People previously at Ashfield left there by the end of May.
Because of this change of role, we have today started a consultation with our employees and their representatives at Ashfield. The number of staff required to work with Adult Category C prisoners compared to Young People is significantly less as the new adult population does not require the same levels of supervision, nor will there be a requirement for the current high number of teachers as while the new population will receive adult learning, they are also much more involved in work activities.
Regrettably, these changes mean that there would be a reduction of 194 staff in the staffing levels from the current workforce of 391 people to 197 people.
We will be exploring every avenue to help our people through these changes including voluntary redundancy, redeployment and outplacement support. A number of our staff will transfer to the charity Catch22, who will be providing case working support at Ashfield. Compulsory redundancy will be a last resort.
Ray Duckworth, Serco's Prison Director, said: "We are immensely proud of our team at Ashfield and the work they have done here over the past 14 years and I am extremely sad about the staff reductions we are having to make. I fully understand the uncertainty and concerns that this will bring about for everyone here and we will make every effort possible to help all our employees over the coming weeks as we bring about the change in role."