Politicians warn inmates capable of taking over ‘in minutes’
CARDIFF Prison is so understaffed it could be taken over “in 10 minutes” if prisoners rioted, a member of the Welsh Assembly warned yesterday.
Plaid Cymru member Bethan Jenkins is demanding an urgent review of prison staffing levels.
Ms Jenkins said she was passing on the warning from an officer at the jail — and also revealed that just last month three Cardiff inmates were arrested after an explosive device was thrown.
She said the incident, which saw a bottle filled with tea whiteners “erupt” at the jail on June 15 after being was thrown, became public only when a prison officer reported it to her. No-one was hurt, and the incident is not being treated as terrorism-related.
But the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) said that substances which could be used to make explosives were known to be available in Britain’s prisons.
The POA has called for information about the incident to be released to the union, and said that 7,000 prison officers’ jobs lost since 2010 must be replaced as violence in prisons rises to unprecedented levels.
POA acting national chair Mark Fairhurst said information about the incident should be shared with the union “to get rid of this threat.”
He said: “This incident highlights the dangers our members face every time they attend their workplace.
“Prison officers are now being assaulted at a rate of 20 per day and are subject to the most volatile and violent working conditions that any industry would ever face.”
He said the man in charge of the prisons and probation service, Michael Spurr, had received a £20,000 performance bonus while in charge of “a failing service that continues to fall into a perpetual spiral of crisis.”
Mr Fairhurst stressed: “Unless the 7,000 front-line prison officer jobs lost since 2010 are replaced we cannot expect levels of violence to fall.”
He called for a modernisation programme, with new prisons staying in the public sector.
“The safety of our members is non-negotiable,” he added.