News & views

Need help now?

Our advice centre has a lot of the information you need.

Read more

Assaults on prison staff hit record highs

31st October 2019

The Ministry of Justice has published its quarterly ‘Safety in Custody’ report, revealing the highest recorded number of assaults on prison staff. Community, the largest union in the privatised justice and custodial sector, has criticised ongoing failures of Government to improve safety.

The report, covering England and Wales, shows that there were 10,424 assaults on prison staff in the twelve months to June 2019, which is a 10% increase from the previous twelve months – a record number. Over 1,000 of these were serious assaults on staff – equivalent to twenty assaults every week. In the quarter there were 260 serious assaults representing a 14% increase on the previous quarter.

Community has been campaigning for a safer justice sector, urging the government to commit to minimum standards across contracts alongside better pay and recognition, and training and career development opportunities for staff.


Adrian Axtell, National Officer for the Justice and Custodial sector said:

“It is shocking that assaults on staff continue to rise and this demonstrates yet again that insufficient action is being taken by Government to tackle this problem, which affects our members on the frontline of public service.

“We have been working with the companies and talking to the Ministry of Justice about the changes that are needed to improve safety for all staff, But it is clear from these figures, particularly the fact there are on average 20 serious assaults on staff every week, that much more needs to be done and the steps that have been taken are still insufficient.

“High levels of violence will continue to lead to prison staff leaving the profession, yet tackling the retention of experienced officers is also key to improving safety in prisons. This vicious circle needs to be broken and we will continue to make the case to all stakeholders for more effective action.”

“Community will keep campaigning for a safer justice, custodial and immigration services sector for our members.”

If you work in justice, custodial or immigration services, join Community for representation and a voice in the workplace.