POA press release: POA start legal proceedings on prison overcrowding

The Prison Officers’ Association (POA) has recently launched legal proceedings challenging the decision by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to increase the number of prisoners in already overcrowded public sector prisons. The legal proceedings have been launched as the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Howard League for Penal Reform have brought to light how dangerously understaffed prisons are, as well as how staff and prisonerns are at risk of being seriously assaulted.

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The following is a press release from POA – www.poauk.org.uk

The POA has today sent the first legal letter to the CEO of NOMS Michael Spurr as it challenges the recent decision to crowd more overcrowded public sector prisons.

The prison population has continued to rise and NOMS has wasted millions of pounds in the last 2 years closing prisons, allowing thousands of staff to leave the service on voluntary redundancy packages all based on the gamble that the prison population would fall.

The POA has consistently warned NOMS and the Government that the prison population was not an exact science and that their policies would crash and burn, placing the public at risk and have serious consequences for the tax payer.
Recent media interest on the prison service failings, has resulted in knee jerk reactions and placed a prison service already in crisis at serious risk of meltdown.

The public has been outraged following recent revelations by the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the findings of the Howard League for Penal Reform that prisons are grossly understaffed, prisoners and staff at risk of being seriously assaulted every day and level of suicides on the increase. It seems no one is listening or cares.

The POA General Secretary Steve Gillan said,

“We will not stand by and allow prisons to become warehouses or our staff to be treated like punch bags on the back of a political agenda that is designed to save money rather than rehabilitate prisoners. Overcrowding places both staff and prisoners in danger.”

Steve Gillan further added,

“That the level of suicides and violence in our prisons is totally unacceptable. Hundreds of staff are being sent all over the country every day and staff face burn out, as they are forced to work excessive long hours in an attempt to maintain Good Order and Discipline”.

A member of staff recently reported that prisoners were fearful for their safety as weapons and drugs were freely available and no staff around to protect them.
When asked why the POA had resulted to legal redress, Steve Gillan said,

“When the employer won’t talk or listen to our genuine concerns we must take all reasonable steps to protect our members, the prisoners in our care and the public.”

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