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About 80 prison officers taking part in protest at Norwich Prison over health and safety

PUBLISHED: 09:39 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:10 14 September 2018

Prison officers taking part in protest outside Norwich Prison. PIC: Steve Searby.

Prison officers taking part in protest outside Norwich Prison. PIC: Steve Searby.

Archant

About 80 prison officers at Norwich Prison have walked out as part of a “protest” at concerns over the health and safety of workers.

Jailers at the Knox Road jail have walked out this morning together with other Prison Officers Association (POA) members at other jails throughout the country.

The action at Norwich Prison, which prison officers insist is not a strike, comes after attacks on staff at the jail have risen dramatically over the past couple of years.

Steve Searby, chairman of the Prison Officers Association (POA) at Norwich Prison, who last month described how there had been 17 attacks on staff in just six weeks, said: “We’ve got 80 of us at the gate.

“We’ve just had the governor come out and give us a direct order to go back to work which we’re ignoring.”

Mr Searby insisted it was “not a strike” but a “protest on health and safety grounds” by members of the POA only with those who were not members still at work in the prison.

He said those taking part in the action were awaiting further instruction from the national executive of the POA who had organised the action.

Mr Searby said staff had their radios on them and would go back into the prison if there was an emergency.

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA, has called for all members to take protest action outside their workplaces from 7am.

It follow the Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke’s letter to the Secretary of State issuing an Urgent Notification Notice at HMP Bedford following a catalogue of failure.

Mr Gillan said, “Earlier this year the POA commenced legal proceedings due to the government’s failure to provide safe prisons. Bedford with other prisons was placed into Special Measures and commitments made to this union from Government and HMPPS. These commitments were not met and we have issued a further Pre-Action Protocol Letter as part of the Judicial Review process because of their failings to provide safe prisons.”

“We will now be demanding that the Government provide safe prisons, meet our demands to improve Personal Protective Equipment, reduce levels of violence and overcrowding as set out by Lord Justice Woolf in his report into the riots of 1990.”

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