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It is unacceptable that within a modern society, serious physical violence in the workplace is deemed as an occupational hazard.

It is equally unacceptable workers do not enjoy the full protection of the law offered to colleagues in the Police Force or indeed the general public.

Prison Officers Association

Prison Officers Association

Assaults on prison officers

Prison officers face everyday threats and assaults when carrying out their duties.


Assaults on prison officers by prisoners in prison establishments in England & Wales have gone up by 300% over a five-year period. 

Prisoners have been increasingly violent not just towards each other but towards the prison staff too. Whilst assaulting a prison officer is covered by the same law (Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018) as police officers or other emergency workers, the law is inadequate as the maximum custodial sentence is up to 12 months.


We must ensure that protections and punishment are in place so that these incidents are not the norm anymore.


We focus here on prison officers, however, Restore Justice has been calling for and working towards the law change for all Emergency Workers, as this issue is very important to all such workers.

However, prison officers, according to our data, have seen the sharpest increase in all assaults, including serious assaults (see data and definition below).

Facts & Figures:

  • 31% of all prison assaults are on prison officers. 

  • Last year there was the equivalent of an assault on a prison officer every hour of every day, with almost 3 serious assaults a day.

  • Assaults on prison staff have risen by more than 300% in the last 5 years for which figures are available.

  • Serious assaults on prison staff have risen by 277% in the same period.

  • Assaults on prison staff in female prisons have also gone up by 334% in the last 5 years.

  • These do not result in the withdrawing of automatic release or even always additional prison sentences.



Serious assaults definition:

A sexual assault; requires detention in outside hospital as an in-patient; requires medical treatment for concussion or internal injuries; or incurs any of the following injuries: a fracture, scald or burn, stabbing, crushing, extensive or multiple bruising, black eye, broken nose, lost or broken tooth, cuts requiring suturing, bites, temporary or permanent blindness.

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