Milton Keynes prison crisis: ‘We don’t know if they will come home’, say family of officers

HMP Woodhill Prison
HMP Woodhill Prison

Violent attacks on city prison officers have almost TREBLED in four years, leaving families fearing for their lives.

And the wife of a worker at HMP Woodhill claims prisoners know the jail is understaffed and are exploiting the situation.

She told the Citizen: “My husband would normally be assaulted about once every two years - now it’s every two months.

“He’ll come home with broken ribs and a broken hand. I could go on.

“The prisoners know Woodhill is under staffed and they are playing on it.”

As reported last week, figures published by The Howard League for Penal Reform revealed the number of frontline officers working at HMP Woodhill has been cut by 36 per cent since 2010.

It leaves the jail with just 290 officers to control its 810 prisoners, in comparison to 452 four years previously.

That’s just three prison officers to every one prisoner.

Last year there was a 179 per cent increase on the number of assaults on prison officers as it reached 67 attacks in comparison to 24 in 2010.

Though the prison is doing its best, there have been repercussions for the employees, said the officer’s wife. “Think of how it feels for the staff and their families not knowing if they will come home after each shift now.

“People ask me why does my husband stay? It’s because he can’t let the other staff down and we have a mortgage to pay.

“So stop going on about the poor prisoners, they’re only in because they broke the law. And many did awful things - it is a Cat A prison after all.”

A prison service spokesperson said: “All prison staff do an excellent job and their safety and security is of paramount importance.

“We do not tolerate violence of any kind in prison and all assaults – especially those on our staff – are treated extremely seriously and we will always press for the most serious charges to be laid.

“We are comprehensively reviewing how we manage violence in prisons and proactively working with the police and CPS to introduce a new approach to the investigation of crime.”

The spokesman added: “The Howard League’s figures are not comparing like for like.

“They have compared the headcount of all officer grades in September 2010 with the full-time equivalent of only prison officer grade in June 2014.”