Union members will speak about their experiences of violence and health and safety issues in prison at a summit in London next week.
A report last year by the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance (JUPA) which has 9 members including PCS, highlighted that the number of assaults on staff in prisons increased in the previous 12 months by 21% to 10,213 – an average of 28 every day. It said that a common issue that staff all face is the daily threat of violence and abuse, and the toll that this takes on their mental health. Retention of a skilled and experienced prison workforce is key to making these improvements in safety; however, the current environment is not conducive to sustainable careers in the prison service or associated support services.
Each of the last 5 publications of the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales’s annual report has cited the reduction in prison officers as a key contributor to the growing crisis in prisons.
Tuesday's summit organised by JUPA will hear from unions representing staff employed by HMPPS, private prison providers, and staff working for contractors providing cleaning, maintenance, and healthcare and education services.
In addition to significant concerns about the safety of members, with an ageing prison population and cases of assaults and self-harm at continuing high levels, the alliance is also concerned about the impact of current conditions on the welfare of prisoners.