Prison officers go on strike

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Prison staff throughout Lancashire have gone on strike over safety fears.

Around 200 officers from Wymott and Garth Prisons in Leyland were instructed not to show for work this morning (Tuesday) by union POA after a breakdown in health and safety talks with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

Around a dozen were also seen demonstrating outside Preston Prison.

One Leyland officer, who asked not to be named, said: “The prisons are not safe for staff or prisoners.

“We have had three deaths at Garth in the last three weeks - two suicides and one overdose - and it’s too dangerous for us to do our jobs.

“The management are not capable of controlling the jails and it’s only a matter of time before a member of staff is being carried out in a body bag.”

The man said the union has allowed enough staff to work in the prison to maintain minimum standards, including to provide food and medicine.

A letter seen by the Evening Post, delivered to stikers in Preston from governor Steve Lawrence, states: “Your action is a breach of contract and may result in you not being paid. Your union’s instructions to you, in inducing industrial action are unlawful.”

NOMS has approached the high court, trying to stop the union’s actions.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman, said: “There is no justification for this action.

“We have been engaged in constructive talks with the POA over the last two weeks and have provided a comprehensive response to a range of health and safety concerns.

“The Government has announced an additional 2,500 frontline officers to help reduce violence in prisons.

“We have well established contingencies in place to manage prisons and keep the public safe but we are clear that this constitutes unlawful industrial action, and we will seek remedy in the courts.”