Inside Time report that The Prison Officers Association have given the National Offender Management Service 28 days to rectify a number of dangerous and unlawful practices.
In a letter to Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) has issued a 28-day notice requiring NOMS ‘to address a number of unlawful and widespread practices which exacerbate the parlous health and safety situation’ in prisons in England and Wales. Failure to do so, they warn, will lead to ‘appropriate legal action’.
The letter, dated November 11, 2015, states that the prison service does not have enough staff to operate safely. This, says the POA, has been caused by a ‘disastrously miscalculated’ redundancy plan devised by the Government which has reduced the number of staff on the ‘mistaken assumption’ that prison numbers would fall: in fact, as everyone knows, they have risen.
Glyn Travis, POA Press Officer, told Inside Time that, based on the number of prison places, there had been found to be a shortfall of 2,800 prison officers – only eighteen months after some 2,000 officers had been offered redundancy!
Overcrowding has resulted in most prisons exceeding the number of prisoners specified in their ‘Certified Normal Accommodation’ by upwards of 30 per cent., and in some cases by a factor of almost 100 per cent. In its attempt to fill the ‘yawning gap in staffing levels’, the POA says that prison management is resorting to the imposition of excessive overtime, leading to officers working continuous shifts of as much as thirty-six hours. There is also the practice of ‘Detached Duty’, whereby prison officers are sent to other establishments, away from their families, to work in unfamiliar environments, and entailing additional stress and risk.
Source: Eric McGraw - Inside Time