POA members at HMP Leeds walked out under Health and Safety legislation over escalating violence in prisons on Friday 14th September.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
This was part of action by POA members across the country in response to increasing violence in prisons, with prison assaults up by 108% since 2010, assaults against prison staff up by 197.4% and self-harm incidents increased by 87.71%.
In HMP there have been incidences of ‘potting’ (throwing contents of a chamberpot at guards) and boiling water being poured over guards in the last few weeks.
This is linked to a prison system that is understaffed and overcrowded, with key demands alongside increased safety measures, including reducing prisoner to staff ratios and that prisons should not hold more prisoners that its ‘certified normal accomodation’ level.
The Tories are trying to run the prison service on the cheap. Prison officers after their gate meeting were keen to talk about the failings of privatisation in prisons exemplified by the return of HMP Birmingham to the public sector, the increase in the pension age for prison officers and the disparities in pay scales betwen new and longer standing staff.
POA members at HMP Leeds were determined to stay out until instructed otherwise to make sure the issue of prison violence gets addressed.