Community, the justice services trade union, has called on Liz Truss, the new Justice Secretary, to take urgent action over alarming new figures which expose the true scale of the safety crisis in prisons in England and Wales.
Today’s official Ministry of Justice ‘Safety in Custody’ report shows that prison staff are increasingly the victims of the safety crisis. In the past year, assaults on prison staff have risen by 40% to 5,243 for the year up to March 2016. The long term trend is just as worrying, with serious assaults on prison staff having risen by a staggering 124% since the Conservatives entered government in 2010.
Community, which represents workers in prison and justice services, is campaigning for government and private contractors to implement a new set of minimum safety standards. Community’s ‘Safe Operating Solutions’ Charter has been praised by front line staff, politicians and justice service providers.
Responding to these figures, Community’s General Secretary, Roy Rickhuss said:
“Liz Truss might just have started the job, but staff in the justice sector have been suffering for years. Violence against the very people working to protect the public and rehabilitate offenders is simply unacceptable. The sharp increase in the number of assaults is tragic proof that the government’s current approach simply isn’t working and, in particular, private prisons have been overlooked when additional funding has been made available to tackle the current crisis.
“I have written to Liz Truss asking for an urgent meeting to discuss how we can work together in making our prisons safer places to work. Our members deserve better from their government and Community will not stop working to ensure they are properly protected at work.”
The previous Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, announced an extra £10 million of funding for prisons in response to the crisis, but none of the funding has been made available to private prisons.