Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/924/23906

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 November 2016

Action needed to defend workers at the sharp end of prisons crisis

Prison officers and inmates are in danger because of cuts, photo by West Midlands Police (Creative Commons)

Prison officers and inmates are in danger because of cuts, photo by West Midlands Police (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

A prison officer

The latest national statistics on safety in our prison system were released recently. These quarterly figures have been breaking records and setting new "unprecedented highs" systematically since 2010 - a year which 'coincidentally' ties in with the culling of 7,000 prison officers' jobs.

Currently deaths in custody including homicides, incidents of self-harm and assaults among prisoners are all on the increase, including a 43% rise in assaults on staff in the last year. The POA union of prison officers and allied workers has consistently challenged the government and employers' plans on how to tackle this ever-worsening situation but year on year the stats speak for themselves.

Some individual branches like Holme House, Wetherby and Wormwood Scrubs have taken action to protect their members from the ever-increasing risk of violence by staging walkouts on health and safety grounds. This is a legal right of any employee, yet all have been branded as criminals themselves and threatened with legal proceedings for their efforts. Prison officers have been denied their right to strike since 1994.

The true extent of the problem is not known by the general public. Drones flying drugs over prison walls, weapons caches, new psychoactive substance and drug abuse, slashing, stabbings, murder and suicide are all events in an average week for some prison officers. They currently have to work until the age of 68 before they qualify for their now reduced civil service pension.

Action gets results

In response to these latest figures the POA directed its members to hold meetings outside of their establishments on 2 November and mandate local committees to effectively take charge of each prison and its regime unless immediate assurances from local management were given. As always the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) hid behind the courts and cited that this was illegal industrial action.

NOMS and the justice secretary Liz Truss did eventually agree to talks with POA national officials on the condition they suspend their directive. These talks are now underway and will cease on 11 November. Should they not address the fears and concerns of the POA, it will re-issue its directive.

Meanwhile Liz Truss has announced government plans on 'prison reform'. They include an injection of 2,500 prison officers to tackle the issue of violence which has been cautiously welcomed. The reality is that prisons are a 'people industry'.

You cannot mechanise the production line or replace analysts with hi-tech software, you need staff supervising and interacting with prisoners in order for them to be safe - plenty of them! 2,500 will hardly make a dent in the damage that has been caused by the removal of the previous 7,000 and with a starting salary of 19,000 plus a retention rate of virtually zero, the number may as well be 100,000. Log on to the civil service website at any time of day and you will see dozens of jails constantly recruiting but in truth nobody wants to work in prisons now.

As well as the "injection of frontline staff", there are the plans for each prison to become a separate legal entity, like academy schools or NHS foundation trusts. What this will mean for the national collective bargaining powers of the POA, dispute resolution, universal pay structures and HR policies is unclear.

Prison officers and union officials would be irresponsible if they allowed this crisis to continue without taking action so I ask everyone to go out and support your local prisons and POA members when that action takes place.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 9 November 2016:


High Court Brexit bombshell

Bosses' government, bosses' EU...fight for socialism

High Court bombshell on Brexit decision


Socialist Party news and analysis

Stop the 54,000 yearly maternity sackings

Build housing for the kids without homes this Xmas

Unions must act on pay restraint!

Court slams Tory air quality plans

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Build the education fightback

Read the Socialist

Over a thousand march to fight museums and libraries cuts

Library cuts: working class kids suffer most

Momentum left meeting excludes socialists

New Socialist Party pamphlet: Fight racism, fight for socialism

Far-right given short shrift in Darlington

Obituary: Hilary Mooney 1945-2016


Socialist Party workplace news

Action needed to defend workers at the sharp end of prisons crisis

Courts and tribunal services face huge cuts

Newcastle council cuts: opportunity for trade union fightback

Birmingham's Labour council freezes workers' pay

Hackney Picturehouse strike


International socialist news and analysis

Turkey: Erdogan tightens repressive screw

Ireland: Gardai strike threat

South Africa: State victimises #OutsourcingMustFall activists


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Horror of health-wrecking toil for Polish migrants

HyperNormalisation: Arbitrary selection of ideas to confirm feelings of powerlessness

Socialist inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 November 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Prisons:

trianglePrison deaths scandal

triangleMy time in a detention centre

triangleWould you call G4S for help over discrimination?

triangleAngry walk out over reforms

Workers:

triangleWest Cheshire Socialist Party: Workers' control and nationalisation explained

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Workers' Brexit? What does it mean?

triangleRefuse workers strike against bullying bosses

Prison:

trianglePalestinian prisoners on mass hunger strike protest

triangleGagged Jobstown defendants defiantly expose the Irish state

triangleVideo: Jobstown not guilty! Irish Socialist TD Paul Murphy speaks

Prison officers:

triangleWhy prison officers rejected pay and pensions deal

triangleLessons of the 'N30' 2011 pension strike

POA:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

Drugs:

trianglePrescription and dental charges to rise again - fight for a free NHS!

Health and safety:

triangleToxic fracking could start in England in 2017

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

28/6/17

Cardiff

Cardiff: youth and workers unite in solidarity with Grenfell

28/6/17

Young people

Organise the 'youthquake'! Young Socialists - Generation Socialist

28/6/17

Manchester

"What do we want? Pay parity. When do we want it? 11 years ago!"

28/6/17

Birmingham

Refuse workers strike against bullying bosses

28/6/17

Unison

Unison conference: confident delegates take control, give Corbyn 'rapturous' welcome

28/6/17

London

NHS secret cuts plans exposed

28/6/17

Grenfell Tower

Council union responds to Grenfell

28/6/17

Grenfell Tower

Reports: organising to fight for safe homes after Grenfell

28/6/17

Pentrich

Pentrich Rebellion 200 years on

26/6/17

Jeremy Corbyn

Rock-star reception as Corbyn inspires thousands at Glastonbury

24/6/17

Camden

Camden evacuation - residents expose fire risks

21/6/17

Grenfell Tower

Justice for Grenfell and safety for all

21/6/17

Canterbury

Canterbury pride

21/6/17

Young people

Young socialists share ideas at London meeting

21/6/17

Government

Protests around the country demand: Tories out!

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle28 Jun Step up the fight to kick out Tories and Blairites

triangle28 Jun Confident delegates take control, give Corbyn 'rapturous' welcome

triangle28 Jun Trade unions must organise mass movement to kick out the Tories

triangle27 Jun After Grenfell - fight for safe homes

triangle26 Jun Consolidating the Corbyn revolution

triangle24 Jun Camden evacuation - residents expose fire risks

triangle21 Jun Justice for Grenfell and safety for all

More ...

triangle28 Jun Hackney Socialist Party: Justice for Grenfell

triangle28 Jun Caerphilly and RCT Socialist Party: Class struggle erupts across South Africa

triangle29 Jun Lambeth Socialist Party: Justice for Grenfell

triangle29 Jun Waltham Forest Socialist Party: Workers' Brexit? What does it mean?

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2