Race Relations Management Teams

The Service also highlights is devotion to providing representation in recruitment competition of women and Roman Catholics. 8 As a whole the Service has identified also that there is a clear underepresentation of Women, especially at higher grades across the headquarters and its services. Statistics also show that there is higher representation of minority ethnic women in the lower grades highlighting the problem of double discrimination. Work is being carried out to look at barriers to the employment of Asian women.

Findings suggested that there was a tendency of Asian women to have perceptions of the organisation that did not match their self-image and aspirations. To address these issues the Home Office participated in the first Government led Women's Employment fair in February 2001. 9 Led by the Treasury, DTI, DIEE and officials from the Women's Unit the venture focused on women maximising their potential in the employment market and aimed to ensure women delegates were better informed and more able to make life choices.

It also sought to ensure that women understand the Government values their contribution to the social and economic well being of the country. The difficulty with ensuring a fair representation of operational women employees centres on the fact that the majority of prisoners are male and therefore some related duties could only be carried out by male employees. Nevertheless non-uniformed areas of the Service are being looked at to make them more appealing to women, with childcare facilities and arrangements being investigated as one solution to removing barriers and providing more flexibility for women with children.

Equal opportunities policies, by themselves, will not bring about equality and neither will they drastically change people's beliefs and attitudes. Organisations must have a system for checking whether their policies are being carried out and whether they are working. By constantly monitoring its applications and workforce the Prison Service can check that their newly implemented policies and directives are working. They can see whether there is equality of opportunity for all groups in the workforce, particularly for groups known to face discrimination in society as a whole.

It may then be able to take steps to correct policy and procedures, as it is in the process of doing, if there appears to be inequality. The service can also use monitoring to allow provisions to be made for particular needs, for example to help identify whether or not any special equipment should be provided to assist staff with disabilities. 10 Legal challenges on discrimination issues can also be avoided by effective monitoring and as well as this can serve to help the Prison Service improve its human resources policies based on an understanding of the structure of the workforce.

In conclusion it is obvious from my research that the Prison Service has started to initiate important changes within its organisation to make its workforce more representative of society. Because of the requirement for security and the higher risk of violence involved in some areas of the Service the job may not appeal to certain groups because of restrictions imposed on their behaviour by their religion or other factors. Nonetheless abuse and violence of a discriminatory nature, in the past, was directed at prisoners from staff and it is this behaviour that has tarnished the Service's reputation within certain communities.

Fortunately the Home Office has realised that recruiting numbers have fallen across all of its public services and so is addressing its HR policies. The changes implemented within the Prison Service should provide opportunities for employees to develop their potential without discrimination, through encouragement, training and careful assessments which go some way in developing good employment practice. Many employees from racial minorities have potential which, perhaps because of previous discrimination and other causes of disadvantage, they have not been able to realise, and which is not reflected in their qualifications and experience.

Removing discrimination of all kinds will allow people and organisations to identify talent and apply it to enable the organisation to achieve its goals and aims. These policies and practices if implemented correctly will help remove prejudices in time, as the threat of legal action should deter public acts of discrimination. The changes in the Services have come late but give rise to hope for the future as well as meeting the EU Employment Directive which will prevent employers discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation or religion by 2003 and outlaws unequal treatment on grounds of disability or age by 2006.

The Service has now laid foundations to establish harmony and progress between colleagues and prisoners and if it is successful in changing its image of institutional racism and staunch chauvinism then it will become more appealing to work in the organisation, and hence the ratio of staff to prisoners will increase. Only then will the community see a reduction in the number of reofferders.