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PRISON staff numbers have dropped in the last three years, new figures reveal.

Officers based in HMP Winchester have been cut from 140 in 2014 to 138 in 2016. In 2015 there were 160.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at Howard League for Penal Reform, said: ‘Reducing resources while allowing the prison population to grow unchecked has created a toxic cocktail of violence, death and human misery.

‘These figures show how reductions in staffing and problems in recruiting and retaining new staff are feeding the problems behind bars.

‘The vast majority of those sent to prison will be released back to the community and so it matters to all of us what happens to people when they are sent to prison.’

In England and Wales there were 14,689 front-line officers, full time equivalent, in June 2016, down from 15,110 in 2015.