Endemic of violence against prison staff must end

New statistics released by the Ministry of Justice this week show an increase in the number of serious assaults on prison staff.

The data published by the UK Government shows that there were 717 serious assaults on prison staff in England and Wales from March 2022-2023, a 3% increase on the previous year. In the latest quarter included in the statistics, the number of serious assaults on staff increased by 9% with 173 incidents recorded.

Overall, there were 7,461 assaults in prison staff in England and Wales in the 12 months up to March 2023 – a rate of 92 attacks per 1000 prisoners. 1,959 of these assaults on staff occurred in the latest recorded quarter alone; an increase of 7% on the 1,829 incidents recorded in the previous quarter. In Scotland there have also been 1735 non-serious assaults and 45 serious assaults on prison staff over the last five years.

Responding to the statistics released by the UK Government, Adrian Axtell, Community Union’s National Officer for the Justice and Custodial sector, said:

“The new data from the Ministry of Justice illustrates the shocking and unacceptable prevalence of violence against staff in our prisons.

“No one should go to work fearing that they will be assaulted while undertaking their job, and it is absolutely shameful that this has become a constant threat for dedicated staff in our justice sector. 

“The data from the UK Government only confirms the harrowing stories Community hears from our members on an almost daily basis.

“We’ve told the UK and Scottish Government’s time and time again that this situation is unacceptable, and unless meaningful steps are taken to address this endemic of violence in our prisons now, things will only get worse – with tragic consequences.

“I’d urge government ministers to engage with Community’s ‘Keep Us Safe’ campaign and take comprehensive action now to increase staffing levels in our prisons and retain experienced staff, as well as to ensure that there are tougher consequences in place for those who assault staff. 

“We need action now as our members cannot and should not have to wait in fear.”

Keep us safe

Community’s ‘Keep Us Safe’ campaign calls on government to stamp out assaults on justice, custodial and immigration sector workers. In addition to calling for improved recruitment and retention policies and tougher action in response to assaults on staff, the campaign calls for enhanced health and safety measures across the sector; improved provision of equipment to keep staff safe; and parity of treatment between prison staff working in the public and private sectors. You can read more about the campaign here.



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