Community, the union representing prison officers, has called for government action in light of new figures on prison violence.
Today’s official Ministry of Justice ‘Safety in Custody’ report shows an alarming rise in violence against prison staff. The figures show assaults on staff have soared up 26% from the previous year, while serious assaults on staff are up 11%.
These emerge in light of a 20.4% increase in prisoners testing positive for drugs, including Psychoactive Substances, which were present in 60% of all positive drug tests.
The Ministry of Justice report further reveals a 23% increase in the number of drugs seized and 15% increase in mobile phones seized.
Responding to these figures, Community’s National Officer, Adrian Axtell said:
“Staff in the justice sector have been victims of assault for years, and these figures demonstrate the scale of the challenge that prison officers now face.
“The figures also show a sharp increase in the use of new psychoactive substances has risen dramatically and this will come as no surprise news to our members who have to deal with the serious consequences of such drugs every day. Urgent action needs to be taken to support staff dealing with these drugs and the knock on effect this has on levels of violence.
“The government has to show they are serious about making our prisons a safer place to work. Community’s ‘Safer Justice Sector’ campaign has sought to engage with government and employers to protect our members’ at work and ensure they have the skills and equipment they need to do the job safely. We welcome the announcement of a pilot project to clamp down on drugs supply, and we will be asking for good practice to be replicated across all prisons. However, while our prisons continue to be understaffed and under resourced, small reforms and projects will have little impact.”
Community is the union in justice, custodial and immigration services in the UK.