To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 9 July 2019 to Question 270730 on Prisons: Industrial Health and Safety, what assessment he has made of risk to prison staff who are (a) directly employed by HMPPS and (b) contractors of (i) exposure to new psychoactive substances, (ii) assaults with excreta and (iii) other assaults.
With regard non HMPPS employees working in prisons, we work closely at all levels with their employers and staff unions. There is a wide range of procedures and systems in place across the estate to control and mitigate their exposures to the risk referred to.
Guidance was issued in 2017 on the control of secondary exposure and scientific research into the risk commenced in May 2018 and is currently focused on post-exposure testing of staff across ten prisons. It has been agreed that the testing programme will be expanded to include a further 10 prisons.
Violence against those working in prisons will never be tolerated. The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act received Royal Assent on 13 September and came into force on 13 November. This will increase the penalty, from 6 to 12 months, for those who assault emergency workers including prison officers. We provide post-incident care teams, occupational health support and counselling for members of staff who are assaulted while doing their jobs.