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210 | 31.10.2019


The POA today called upon the Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland QC MP to urgently intervene in order to protect Prison Officers at work.

Today’s published quarterly Safety in Custody Statistics have once again highlighted record levels of self-harm, assaults and serious assaults on staff.

The proportion of assaults on staff increased to 31% of all incidents in the 12 months to June 2019, a steady increase from 20% in 2012.

Assaults in prisons were recorded at a record high of 34,112, up 5%.

Assaults on prison staff reached a record high of 10,424 up 10%.

Assaults in the Youth custody estate reached a record high of 2,466.

Self-harm in prisons increased by 22%.

National Chair of the POA Mark Fairhurst responded to the latest statistics stating:

“Our employer has dramatically failed to address violence and self-harm in our prisons. By their own admittance, the under recording of violence is rife so these statistics are actually much worse.

Over 12 months ago the Government promised Prison Officers that the roll out of PAVA incapacitated spray would commence in January 2019. To date, just 2 prisons have rolled it out due to the criteria our employer has placed on the roll out, which clearly compromises the health and safety of staff.


The key worker scheme is not reducing violence despite assurances from HMPPS that this was the way forward.

In the absence of safe and adequate staffing levels I now call upon the Secretary of State Robert Buckland to urgently intervene and insist that PAVA is rolled out immediately, without delay in order to combat the unprecedented levels of violence in our prisons.

Empty promises will not curtail the life changing injuries both staff and prisoners face. If he is serious about staff safety, I would expect him to use his position to influence those who continue to stall the roll out and place POA members at risk.

The safety of staff is non-negotiable and the POA will use any means necessary to ensure staff are safe in their workplaces.”


For further information, contact:
POA Press Office 020 8803 0255 Option 7