Prison staff stage walk-out

Hindley prison
Hindley prison

Wigan jail staff have walked out in protest at plans that may change the way they work and their alleged exclusion from talks.

Prison Officers Association members at Hindley Young Offenders Institution and opposite numbers cross England say they have been “undermined” by proposals to reform the offender management system.

The POA staged an hour-long meeting outside the precincts of Hindley YOI at 8am yesterday before staff returned to their posts. Prison officers are technically banned from going on strike but the POA today refuted Ministry of Justice claims that the meetings were unlawful.

The association says it is angry that members have not been consulted over a government plans to change the way prisoners are supervised during their sentences - which it believes could lead to redundancies. Half a dozen prisons’ governors are going to be given total autonomy over budgets.

A spokesman said today: “We need to sit down with the National Offender Management Service to find out exactly what is going on. It could be that some sites, such as Hindley, might be unaffected, or be hit by job losses. We just don’t know because they have not been involving us in discussions.”

The Prison Service says the meetings were against the law, a spokesman adding: “This morning’s unlawful industrial action lasted an hour or less at most prisons. All staff have now resumed normal working. An appropriate level of security was in place across the prison estate at all times. Strike action is unlawful for prison officers. We are in regular contact with unions and are continuing discussions to address any concerns they have. The safety and security of our prisons is a top priority and well established plans are in place to respond to action and maintain stable regimes.”