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Prison violence reaches all-time high, official figures reveal

AROUND 25 attacks on staff are recorded every day as levels of prison violence in England and Wales have reached an all-time high.

Official figures revealed today show that there were 9,485 assaults on staff in the 12 months to June this year, with 947 classed as “serious” and requiring medical attention. 

This is a huge increase of 27 per cent on the previous year, a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) report showed.

The MoJ report Safety In Custody claimed that there has been a change in how assaults are recorded, which may have contributed to the increase.

Prison staff union POA chair Mark Fairhurst said: “In the most hostile and violent workplace in Western Europe I find it abhorrent that some governors attempt to carry on as normal, despite their jails being inherently violent.

“If the employer listened to the POA instead of attempting to injunct us, our prisons could become places of rehabilitation instead of the war zones they currently are.”

POA general secretary Steve Gillan said that he will write to Justice Secretary David Gauke to demand that he immediately “takes stock of these disastrous stats and sit down with the POA and draw up an action plan that actually means something.”

The report also revealed that the total number of assaults jumped by a fifth to 32,559 in the 12 months to June and that there has been an 8 per cent annual increase in prison custody deaths, with 325 recorded in the 12 months to September.

Of these, five were murder or manslaughter and this figure is an increase of two from the previous year.

Over the same period, there were 87 self-inflicted deaths, up from 78 in the previous year.

Self-harm has also increased by a fifth, with 49,565 incidents recorded in the 12 months to June.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon condemned the levels of violence and self-harm as a “national scandal.”

He added: “Tory austerity is squarely to blame for this unprecedented wave of violence and self-harm in our prisons.”

Mr Burgon called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to allocate more funds in his Budget on Monday to “tackle the widespread understaffing and overcrowding that has made our prisons a danger to the officers, inmates and wider society.”

Mr Gauke said that the government has recruited 3,500 new prison officers over the last two years and is spending an extra £40 million to improve safety and tackle drugs.

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