LAGAN Valley MLA Paul Givan has insisted that, despite recent suggestions otherwise, it’s clear there will be no changes to Prison Service uniforms and the focus should now shift to keeping staff informed about coming reform.
The DUP Assemblyman and Justice Committee Chair said, “It is now abundantly clear that there will be no changes to the uniforms worn by Prison Service employees
“The unnecessary uncertainty around this issue was demoralising for many staff and the focus should now be on ensuring that staff are kept informed about progress in the reform process and that those who wish to avail of the exit scheme are facilitated.
“Last year the First Minister made it quite clear that there would be no changes to Prison Service emblems including the Crown. Unfortunately there have been some people who have more recently sought to suggest that new recruits to the Prison Service may be given a different uniform which would see the Crown and other insignia absent.
“In response to a question from myself the Justice Minister once again reiterated that any change to the uniform and insignia worn by staff would be considered controversial and would require cross-community consent within the Executive. It is quite clear therefore that there will be no change to those uniforms, and staff and the public can now move forward in confidence.”
Mr. Givan said there were morale problems among some Prison Service staff and he had asked the Justice Minister to ensure better communication between management and staff about the ongoing reform process.
“However,” he added, “we must also recognise that unfounded and unsubstantiated rumours do not help boost morale amongst staff. The search for a headline where none exists should not be at the expense of creating confusion amongst staff.
“There are important issues which I would like to see progressed, such as ensuring that staff who wish to make use of the exit scheme can do so. Those are the issues which I and my party are focusing on instead of attempting to raise fears about issues of uniforms which fall firmly under a Unionist veto and will not be changing.”