POA Circulars

20 | 18.03.2015


The Justice Committee carried out an inquiry into the above and released its report on Wednesday 18th March 2015.

Much of the report’s findings are consistent with the concerns that the National Executive Committee has raised with NOMS and Ministers about the health and safety of staff and prisoners, in particular caused by staff cuts, prison population, detached duty and prison closures.
It is clear that various bodies including the Justice Committee have real and immediate concerns over safety. At paragraph 116 (page 48) of the report, the Committee state “Some difficulties could arise in any process of change, but it is clear to us that the Ministry had not planned adequately for the risk of staffing shortages and failed to act sufficiently quickly to mitigate them. This unsatisfactory outcome and sluggish response has risked jeopardising the safety of prisoners and prison staff”.

This is a situation that the Executive cannot allow to continue. Therefore we have today written to NOMS (attached letter to Michael Spurr) requiring revised and up to date risk assessments to be carried out across the entire prison network and for safe systems of work to be put in place to address all risks identified. We have offered to work in partnership with NOMS in accordance with the existing Regime Management Plan to achieve this and to provide the additional assistance of our health and safety representatives, if required. Urgent implementation of NOMS’ own RMP by all of its prison managers will enable the entire network to be reassessed for health and safety risks within a period of 28 days. If, after 28 days, appropriate and adequate risk assessments have not be conducted, or if safe systems of work in response to identified risks have not been implemented by NOMS, the Executive will take appropriate steps to advise all POA members what measures they should personally take to prevent or reduce risks to the health and safety of themselves, other prison staff and prisoners.

We are also advising members to give notice of withdrawal from voluntary time as we cannot risk POA members working in the dangerous environment identified by the Justice Committee for extended hours with the consequent risk of fatigue.

The health and safety of staff and prisoners is paramount.

Yours sincerely 

National Chairman 

Yours sincerely 

General Secretary