Staff at Lewes prison walk out amid row over safety concerns

Staff at Lewes prison have walked out this morning as part of a national protest.

The walk out began at 7am and staff said they did not know when they would return to work.

All visitation rights to Lewes prison have been cancelled and people have been turned away at the door.

The walk out has been organised by the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) - the union for prison staff and is taking place across the country including London, Liverpool and Manchester.

The national protests come after a report spoke of “unprecendented violence” in prisons and a lack of health and safety standards and followed a report by Peter Clarke, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, who issued an urgent notification at Bedford Prison.

Inspectors came across a “dangerous lack of control” at the prison after finding Beford prisoners regularly ignored rules. They also reported a smell of drugs and an infestation of rats.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has 28 days to reply to the letter and publish a plan of action for the jail.

Meanwhile the MoJ have put ‘contingency plans’ in place and they are seeking an injunction to stop the protests, which could be heard in court later.