Violence towards jail officers has soared for the reason that pandemic with 23 assaults a day recorded final yr throughout England and Wales. A brand new report solely seen by Sky News by the Community commerce union warns that with out “major, generational reform…the epidemic of violence will only get worse”.
They’re calling for all political events to decide to a nationwide technique to scale back assaults on employees forward of the following common election.
Political correspondent Amanda Akass has been talking to at least one jail officer who suffered catastrophic accidents throughout an assault at work.
When Martin Geddes was ambushed by an inmate who stole his baton and beat him across the head – he thought he was going to die.
“He sucker punched me, grabbed me, pulled me into the cell and obtained maintain of my baton. And that is the very last thing I bear in mind till I got here spherical with the cell stuffed with officers and my pal thought my throat had been reduce, as a result of there was that a lot blood.
“I suffered a ten inch laceration to the back of my head requiring ten staples, and multiple other baton injuries to my head and body.” His attacker was convicted and sentenced to an indefinite hospital order.
Three years on, Martin nonetheless suffers from searing headaches- and says it is had a catastrophic affect on his psychological well being.
“I used to be having flashbacks – for at the least 12 months, earlier than I had remedy.
“The flashbacks were 40 or 50 a day of the last image I remember, the inmate holding my baton fully extended above my head. I had suicidal thoughts. If it hadn’t been for my partner Alison I would have taken my own life. I just couldn’t cope.
“It was a job I cherished doing however I’d by no means return. I’ve needed to resign. I simply do not feel protected on the touchdown anymore.”
The variety of jail officers dealing with assaults at work – throughout each private and non-private prisons – is rising quickly. At the present fee it is quickly set to overhaul the document numbers from simply earlier than the pandemic in 2018-19.
The newest authorities figures launched in January present there have been 8,516 assaults on jail officers in England and Wales over the 12 months to September 2023, a rise of 16% on the earlier yr – which works out at 23 assaults a day. Of these assaults 765 have been categorised as critical. Attacks in ladies’s prisons in the meantime are at their highest ever stage, with 785 throughout that very same interval.
The Community commerce union, which represents 1000’s of employees at non-public prisons, has at the moment revealed a report, solely seen by Sky News, which claims that with out “major, generational reform of the sector, chronic overcrowding and the epidemic of violence against prison staff will only get worse”.
Co-author Kate Dearden, Community’s head of analysis, coverage and politics, is looking for all political events to decide to the event of a nationwide plan to scale back assaults on employees of their manifestos forward of the following common election.
She needs to see larger minimal staffing ranges, swifter, stronger punishments for offenders, larger psychological well being assist for these affected, and higher pay to enhance staffing ranges. The union can also be calling for measures to scale back overcrowding, akin to a larger use of group sentences and digital tagging.
She stated: “It’s not right that people should have to risk their lives just going to work, with their families worried about if they’re going to come home.
“Action must be taken to forestall and stamp out these assaults. It’s clear that we’d like an entire overhaul of our justice system to ensure that occurs.”
In November, the prison population in England and Wales was 87,930, against an operational capacity of 88,924. More than 60% of prisons are officially overcrowded and holding more inmates than they are certified to.
While the federal government is dedicated to offer 20,000 new locations by the mid 2020s, minister Edward Argar knowledgeable the Justice Select Committee this week that solely 8,500 are set to be prepared by May 2025. He blamed the delays on issues securing planning permission for brand new prisons.
Ex-prisoner provides surprising account of life in a ladies’s jail
Huge price of holding inmates on indefinite sentences revealed
In their Prisons Performance Tracker for 2023, the Institute for Government concluded that whereas the variety of jail officers had grown by 1.3% over the previous yr, complete employees numbers have been nonetheless 10% decrease than in 2010, and retention is “poor”.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson stated: “The overall rate of assaults on our hardworking prison staff is 10% lower than prior to the pandemic but violence is never tolerated which is why we increased the maximum penalty for assaulting prison officers.
“We have additionally invested £100m in powerful safety measures together with X-ray physique scanners to clamp down on the contraband that fuels violence behind bars.”