Assaults on prison staff unacceptably high

Government released figures today show that assaults on prison staff remained at the same levels during 2021 as the previous year, with figures decreasing in the last quarter.

The figures show that assaults remain unacceptably high with on average 22 assaults on staff every day.

Adrian Axtell, National Officer for the Justice and Custodial Sector here at Community, said:

Whilst we welcome the fall in rates of assaults on workers in prisons towards the end of last year, incidents remain unacceptably high and those who are assaulted are too frequently left without support.

In the past year, more than twenty prison officers have been assaulted at work every day on average.  No one should live with the constant threat or fear that they might be assaulted while at work. Yet those who work in the justice, custodial and immigration sector are all too often faced with that reality.

Research shows that the frequency of assaults on staff has led to “de-facto decriminalisation” of assaults on workers, with 64% saying that reporting abuse at work did not lead to any consequences.

The figures today are a sobering reminder of the challenges prison workers are facing. We are calling for urgent reform to protect our justice sector staff, and are seeking talks with government on the issue. We’re asking them to keep us safe.

The figures go up to December 2021, and include both public and private prisons. Community continues to engage with private sector employers on the importance of reducing assaults on staff.

You can read the full safety in custody report from the Ministry of Justice here.

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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