POA members return to work at HMP Liverpool

Prison officers pictured in 2016

POA members at HMP Liverpool have returned to work  after refusing to enter the prison yesterday following the sacking of a member of staff.

The long-serving officer, who was cleared by police of any wrong-doing, lost his job after pre-emptively striking an inmate because he feared for his, a colleague or a prisoner’s safety.

His colleagues returned to work in the afternoon after receiving assurances the issue would be addressed.

POA national chair Mark Fairhurst told union-news.co.uk: “POA members at HMP Liverpool quite rightly protected their health and safety today by refusing to enter a violent and hostile workplace without protective measures in place. Law and prison service policy allows us to deliver pre emptive strikes if we feel threatened. To remove this right from us puts staff at imminent risk. We are pleased that a resolve was agreed and our concerns will be addressed.”

Yesterday morning the union published a statement saying: “Prison officers face ever-increasing levels of violence, due to the unprecedented levels of drugs and debt within the prison population and Liverpool is a high-risk prison.

“Prison officers are taught to use Control and Restraint (C&R) to manage the prison population. As part of the training they are taught to use a pre-emptive strike if they feel their personal safety, that of a colleague or a prisoner is at risk.

The officer used this approved method and was unjustly sacked. Prison officers now fear they will lose their jobs if they use force and will often allow prisoners to assault them rather than risk their employment.”

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon gave his support to the action, saying: “Labour stands with prison officers who do an important job in difficult and increasingly dangerous circumstances. If prison officers feel it necessary to protest in this way, citing unprecedented levels of violence they face, the government must take their concerns seriously.

“The government must, without delay, get round the table to agree a practical way forward for the POA so our prisons are fully functioning and safe for staff, prisoners and wider society.”

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