There was a record high 5,423 assaults on prison staff, up 40 per cent from 3,887 in the previous year, according to Ministry of Justice figures published on July 28 2016. This equates to a rate of 63 assault-on-staff incidents per 1,000 prisoners, up from 46 in the previous year.
The figures have been published in the wake of a report in May by the UK Government’s Justice Select Committee, which recommended urgent action on prison safety.
IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said: “Urgent action is needed to address the serious and worrying rise in assaults on prison officers. We urge the Government to heed the recent Justice Committee report’s recommendations on prison safety and to produce an action plan and quarterly progress reports. Those working in our prison service must have their health, safety and wellbeing adequately protected.”
Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said the level of violence in our prisons was "unacceptable" and highlighted the prevalence of psychoactive substances as a problem.
"I am clear that safety in prisons is fundamental to the proper functioning of our justice system and a vital part of our reform plans," she told the BBC.
"There are a number of factors including the availability of psychoactive substances in prisons which must be tackled. It will take time to address these long-standing problems. I am determined to make sure our prisons are safe and places of rehabilitation."