POA News

85 | 29.06.2017

REPORTING VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE AND NEXT STEPS

The Executive previously promulgated POA Circular 97/2016 following a number of Circulars advising members to report all assaults to the Police and to place the prisoner on report at the same time. The latest Safer Custody statistics for prisons in England and Wales, again highlight the increasing level of violence against staff. The Executive recognise this is a similar trend in all POA workplaces.

This is totally unacceptable and must be addressed.

In order to assist members and local Committee’s, the following procedures should be adopted:

  • If a member of staff is assaulted they should place the prisoner on report and refer the assault to the Police. The member should remind the Police Officer of the attached protocol on the appropriate handling of crimes in prisons (AHCP) and its purpose. The local Police Intelligence Officer should assist in this.
  • It is advisable for the member to go to the local Police Station to make this report and to obtain a crime reference number (which will be necessary for any CICA application).
  • The Governor must suspend the adjudication pending the outcome of the Police Investigation: see para 7.2 of AHCP.
  • The Police must investigate the assault, taking into account the provisions of the AHCP and, where appropriate, refer the matter to the CPS for a charging decision.
  • The Governor has an absolute duty to assist the Police; see para 8.1 AHCP and also note the provisions of para 6.2: the “prison community impact statement” should be completed within two weeks of a Police referral, but before the Police refer the matter to the CPS for a charging decision.
  • If for any reason the CPS or Police determine that the assault is not to be prosecuted, despite para 9.4 AHCP which stresses that, “Assaults on Prison Officers undermine the fundamental principle of control and order which is necessary for the safe running of any prison”, the member must contact the POA Legal Department as soon as possible, so that legal advice can be provided as to whether the decision was justified or can be challenged.
  • The POA has been successful with applications against the Police and CPS through the Judicial Review process, challenging the failure to prosecute acts of violence against POA members.
  • If it is determined that the decision of the Police and or CPS is not to prosecute the assault through the Courts, the Governor should then conclude the adjudication.

The protocol for handling violence against staff in prisons is attached for your consideration and action. It is advisable for all local Committees to place this on the agenda for monthly meetings with Management, to ensure the protocol is being used effectively so that members are being dealt with and the incident is investigated properly.

SEEKING COMPENSATION AND PAY

Following any assault, if members wish to seek compensation, it is vital that the key steps are followed to proceed with any claim.

If the member is injured as a result of the assault the normal process for compensation is through the CICA.

  • The member must raise a claim on-line with the CICA at the following website address www.gov.uk/claim-compensation-criminal-injury as soon as possible and ensure they enter POA Headquarters as their representative.
  • The member must forward a copy of the completed CICA application to the Legal Department at Cronin House.
  • The member must have attended their GP or hospital and obtained treatment, but members should not wait for their treatment to be completed before registering a claim.
  • The member should also contact the Department for Work and Pensions or equivalent and report the assault as an industrial accident.
  • The local Committee should ensure the assault is investigated and local risk assessments and safe systems of work reviewed.
  • The member should also contact the union’s Solicitors Thompsons and seek advice on pursuing a Personal Injury Claim, if they believe the employer was negligent. These claims are difficult, but can succeed in obtaining members fair and just compensation, providing negligence can be proved. Please contact Thompsons direct on 0800 587 7515. For the avoidance of doubt, Thompsons will not complete the CICA claim.
  • For the vast majority of POA members all sick absence as a result of the assault, is excused and pay remains unaffected. Members should check this with their employer and seek assistance from the local Committee if necessary.
  • In some cases, employers are not following the Rules and are placing members on reduced pay or asking them to apply for sick leave excusal. This is generally wrong and if this happens to any of your members they must raise a grievance where appropriate and seek advice.

The POA has continued to raise the issues of Staffing, Regimes, Profiles, Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of Work with the employer. Unfortunately, they ignore our concerns and accept that POA members, their staff, will be assaulted; this is unacceptable.

Please draw the contents of this Circular to all members’ attention and raise the AHCP with your Local Management to ensure the process is followed.

Yours Sincerely

 

STEVE GILLAN
General Secretary