I completely agree. The conditions in many of our prisons are explosive. Holme House Prison is quite close to my constituency too, and I have visited it on a number of occasions. It is not just prison officers who are subjected to assaults; support staff are, too, and they need to be protected.
The debate is really serious. It is about life and death. Assaults against prison officers have almost quadrupled since 2010. As we heard this morning at Justice questions, there are more than 10,000 assaults a year, 1,000 of which are very serious. That works out at more than 28 a day on average—the same as the number of assaults experienced by the whole of our police service, which is a much bigger force. I am not justifying assaults on any emergency workers, but that is the scale of the problem.
I read through some newspaper headlines, which are really quite disturbing. I will mention a selection of them. One paper reported that a court was told how an inmate used a
“sock filled with pool balls to smash windows” and injure prison officers. Another reported that a prison officer was stabbed in the head by an inmate in a “savage UK jail attack”. One story read:
“Teenage thugs injure 20 prison officers in riot at young offenders’
institute…One officer suffered a broken nose and another was concussed after being repeatedly punched.”
Other headlines included “Prison officer seriously hurt after being ambushed in cell” and “Prison officer has ‘throat cut’ by inmate at HMP Nottingham”. Conditions are difficult for new prison officers in our violent and dangerous prisons.