The justice services trade union, Community, has called for more government action in response to a report by MPs which said that prison safety is ‘deteriorating’.
The union, which represents the majority of private sector prison officers, is calling for contractors and the government to implement a Safe Operating Solutions Charter in all justice services. But Community has also criticised the report by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee for failing to acknowledge the different challenges between public and private prisons.
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:
“Much of the analysis in the report supports what we hear from prison officers on the frontline and we welcome the fact that MPs have added their voices to calls for urgent action to address the prison safety crisis. However, we are disappointed that the unique challenges faced in private sector prisons have not been recognised. Many of the committee’s recommendations should apply across both the public and private sector, but to do so the government needs to look again at private prison contracts. Community’s Safe Operating Solutions Charter calls for action on a number of areas including policies to reduce prison violence, better training, agreed staffing levels and improved health and safety. We want the government and current contractors to implement our charter across justice contracts.
“We are concerned that the Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service are pursuing too much of a hands-off approach when it comes to safety in private prisons. That attitude needs to change and it needs to change soon before more prison officers suffer serious injury or worse. Community is open to dialogue with ministers, NOMS and the government’s contractors to find safe solutions in the best interests of private sector prison officers.”