Labour Research September 2017

Health & Safety Matters

Crisis in Britain’s jails

The POA prison officers’ union has called on the government and senior management to take urgent action to tackle the crisis in Britain’s jails. 

In his 2016-17 annual report, the chief inspector of prisons for England and Wales highlighted “startling increases in all types of violence”. The biggest increase was in assaults on staff which rose by 38% to 6,844 in the 12 months to December 2016. Of the total, 789 were serious assaults. 

Mark Fairhurst, acting national chair of the POA, said: “My members are working in the most astonishing and unsafe conditions of any industry.”

Following a riot at The Mount Prison in Hertfordshire, the union also pointed to independent reports highlighting serious problems due to staff shortages, drugs, increased levels of violence and prisoners spending more time locked up. 

The POA has called for an independent review to address recruitment and retention. Since 2010 8,000 prison staff have been lost, while the prison population has increased. Violence and drugs use has increased, while there are now unprecedented levels of self-harm and self-inflicted deaths.