Prison Officers' Association: 'We're asking that we regain control of our prisons'


Friday, September 14, 2018

Prison officers across the country will be on strike today in protest against rising violence in prisons.

From 7am this morning, members of the Prison Officers' Association will protest outside their workplaces, with skeleton staff taking over the reins.

The walk-out has been organised by the Prison Officers' Association following a letter from the Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke, to the Secretary of State, issuing an urgent notification notice at HMP Bedford.

Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer in his first broadcast interview since the strike was announced, General Secretary of the the Prison Officers' Association, Steve Gillan, said he wanted to see "clear commitments from government" following the protest, which was on "health and safety grounds" and not an "action against prisoners".

'Fractured eyesockets'

He continued: "There's been 116 assaults on prison staff in the last six months. Some of them broken arms, fractured jaws, fractured eyesockets. Staff told the prisons inspector they felt unsafe at work. And prisoners in our care, two thirds of them said they felt unsafe in the prison. That is unacceptable.

"We haven't made this decision lightly. Over the last few years we've been trying to work with ministers and indeed the hierarchy of the prison service. As far as we've made some inroads, it's not enough.

"We've recently seen only yesterday the urgent notice that the chief inspector has given on HMP Bedford. Anybody who has read that can see that jail is an absolute crisis, and that replicates many of our jails across the country.

"We're asking that we regain control of our prisons with proper searching strategies, proper patrol dogs, stopping drones and mobile phones coming in with daily perimeter checks, a searching strategy, parva incapaciting spray being given to every prison officer in every jail in the country so our members feel safe."

"I want clear commitments from government. Not next week, not next month, but today."