“Don’t praise us in the press, but do nothing to help” – POA chair’s angry letter to Justice Secretary

The national chair of the POA has written to Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, to demand urgent action on prison violence.

The letter from Mark Fairhurst comes after on Saturday prisoners rioted at HMP Stocken, attacking a prison officer from behind with a pool ball in a sock. Staff withdrew from the wing for their own safety. Riot teams regained control in the early hours of Sunday morning. The officer was taken to hospital and is recovering at home from concussion.

Mark Fairhurst said: “The levels of violence and the incidents my members have dealt with since the beginning of the year highlight the need to issue the vital protective equipment staff have been waiting for since October 2018 without delay.

“Placing criteria on the issue of equipment that can be used to quell violence and protect staff and prisoners is unacceptable and my members have had enough. I have written to the secretary of state Robert Buckland requesting an urgent meeting and I still await an acknowledgement, proof that those in power make bold statements praising brave Prison Officers, when in reality they do absolutely nothing to improve their working conditions or ensure they are safe.

“Having spoken to staff involved in this incident it is clear that if PAVA [incapacitant spray] had been carried, the incident would never have escalated. Asking prison officers to do their job effectively is like asking a firefighter to quell a blaze without a hose and water. Staff should not be placed at risk daily due to a reluctance to roll out measures that could prevent these incidents occurring.”

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