Prison Officers: Assaults

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 8th September 2015.

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Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Conservative, Sherwood 11:30 am, 8th September 2015

What steps he is taking to ensure that prison officers are protected from assault.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The National Offender Management Service is totally committed to running safe prisons. Violence in prisons is not tolerated, and assaults on staff are completely unacceptable. Any prisoner who commits an act of violence can expect to have action taken against them. NOMS is undertaking violence reduction work in prisons to make sure there is strengthened handling of violence in terms of both prevention and response.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Conservative, Sherwood

I was pleased to hear the Secretary of State refer to body-worn cameras. Can the Minister confirm that he will continue to push for the wearing of body-worn cameras, and does he recognise the impact they have on the safety not only of prison officers, but of prisoners?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are currently trialling some 600 body-worn cameras in 24 prisons, which is absolutely the right thing to do. I saw them being used at first hand in Glen Parva recently, and both prison officers and prisoners reported that they felt a lot safer. I think they are leading to an increase in professionalism and general reassurance across the estate, and I warmly welcome their introduction.

Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon Independent, North Down

The Minister will be well aware that in Northern Ireland prison officers not only fear assault in prisons, but are in peril of their lives because of murder threats on a daily basis from dissident republicans. Thirty prison officers have been murdered in Northern Ireland. Will the Minister consult the Justice Minister in Northern Ireland on progress on the memorial garden that was supposed to have been set up to commend and commemorate the 30 murdered prison officers?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I am not familiar with the important issue the hon. Lady raises, but she has asked me to look into it and I commit to doing so and getting back to her.