LONDON: Jail staff in England and Wales are employed in the most violent and hostile workplace in western Europe, the head of the Prison Officers Association (POA) has claimed. POA national chairman Mark Fairhurst delivered the stark assessment after a disturbance at a high-security jail left six officers injured.
Trouble erupted at HMP Long Lartin on Sunday. It is understood the disorder was confined to one wing of the Worcestershire jail and began at around 9.30am before being brought under control by around 6pm after specialist “Tornado” personnel were deployed.
The POA said early reports indicate that two members of staff received facial injuries, one had a suspected fractured arm and the other three were treated for head injuries. Seven prisoners have been placed in isolation ahead of transfer to other facilities.
On Monday, Mr Fairhurst said: “My thoughts are with the injured staff who should be able to perform their duties without the fear of being assaulted.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “Violence in prison is never tolerated and our prison officers do vital and important work, which is why we have doubled the sentences for those who attack them.“We have given prison staff the biggest pay rise in a decade and are rolling out body-worn cameras, ‘police-style’ handcuffs and restraints, and trialling PAVA incapacitant spray to ensure they have the tools they need to do the job safely. “We’ve also hired over 3,500 additional officers in the last two years to ease the burden and continue to recruit.
“Allied to this, we are investing £40 million to improve the prison estate and tackle the drugs problem that drives much of the violence, introducing airport-style body scanners, phone-blocking technology and more drug-detecting dogs.”
HMP Long Lartin is one of five high-security “dispersal” establishments and holds some of the most dangerous offenders in the country. It had a population of 495 as of the end of August. An inspection of the prison carried out in January found there was a “well-controlled environment” but warned that, while overall levels of violence had not risen, assaults against staff had gone up.