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High Court prison violence ruling welcome but more action needed

24th June 2016

The High Court has ruled that prisoners can be prosecuted for assaulting prison officers. In response, Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of justice services union Community, said:

“This judgment is a welcome step towards tackling the crisis of rising violence towards prison officers. Last year saw a serious assault on staff almost twice every day. It’s only right and proper that prison officers are treated equally. Prisoners who assault them should be brought to justice. However, the threat of future prosecution is not¬†enough alone to protect prison officers on the frontline of public service. There is much more that can and should be done to improve the safety and well-being of prison officers as they perform their vital duties. That’s why we continue to call on the Ministry of Justice and employers in the sector to adopt Community’s Safe Operating Solutions charter.

“The prisons crisis will continue without adequate funding to ensure appropriate staffing levels, effective training and improvements in health and safety. Private sector prisons must not be overlooked when additional resources are made available.

“If this judgment is to be effective, then prison officers and other justice, custodial and immigration officers must be encouraged and enabled to report incidents of assault. They must then be fully supported by their employer to pursue justice and receive the necessary aftercare following a violent incident.”

“Community will strive to work in partnership with employers to improve the safety and well-being of our members. We will also continue our campaign for a safer justice sector.”