The HM Inspectorate of Prisons has been highly critical of HMP Liverpool, Walton Prison, describing it as ‘dirty, overcrowded and poorly equipped’. In his report he says that these changing conditions have led to adverse effects on prison custody officers as well as on prisoners who have seen an increase in violence, self-harm and suicide.
In the 14 months prior to the report, ten inmates had died, three of whom had committed suicide. The inspectorate also reports a threefold increase in attacks on prison staff. Attacks on staff can be very serious, often leaving prison staff with lifelong injuries that prevent them from continuing their chosen careers.
Prisons have a duty to ensure that the workplace of their employees is reasonably safe and risks are reduced to the lowest level reasonably practicable. The employer’s duty is not an absolute duty, so not every attack by an inmate on a prison custody officer is necessarily a breach of that duty. However, the working environment, including the risk of attacks against staff, must be risk assessed and, as those risks change, procedures, policies and training may need to be changed to protect prison custody officers from harm.
The Penningtons Manches personal injury team includes several specialists in employer liability claims and assault claims who are familiar with working with victims of violence, obtaining funding and making provision for the need for therapy, vocational rehabilitation and long term care and financial support.