Police officers at HMP Wandsworth have joined colleagues from across the country by staging a walk out.

The prison staff, who are member of the Prison Officers Association (POA), are protesting the working conditions at prison. At 7:00 am this morning (Friday, September 14) POA general secretary, Steve Gillan, called members to protest outside their workplaces.

The decision following the chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke's, letter to the Secretary of State, MP Sajid Javid, issuing an Urgent Notification Notice at HMP Bedford following a 'catalogue of failure'. POA believe that there ha been 'unprecedented levels of violence' with governments and employers have failed to provide safe prisons.

Steve Gillan said, “The POA has engaged with the Employer and Ministers in an attempt to resolve issues, but they are paying lip service to the Health & Safety of my members their Human Rights, that of other workers in prisons and of course the prisoners in our care.

“Earlier this year the POA commenced legal proceedings due to the Government’s failure to provide safe prisons. Bedford with other prisons was placed into Special Measures and commitments made to this union from Government and HMPPS. These commitments were not met and we have issued a further Pre-Action Protocol Letter as part of the Judicial Review process because of their failings to provide safe prisons.

“We will now be demanding that the Government provide safe prisons, meet our demands to improve Personal Protective Equipment, reduce levels of violence and overcrowding as set out by Lord Justice Woolf in his report into the riots of 1990.”

In response to the protest, prisons minister Rory Stewart said: "Prison officers do vital and important work and we urge them to return to their duty stations, in line with their obligations to the law and the prison service.

“It’s irresponsible for the POA to encourage their members to take this illegal action. We are deploying our contingency plans but, by not turning up for work, these prison officers are putting their fellow staff and inmates at risk.

“Yesterday we doubled the prison sentence for anyone who assaults prison officers. We’ve also increased pay, provided tools such as body-worn cameras to increase security on the landings, and are investing £40m to improve the estate and tackle the drugs problem which is fuelling much of the violence. And we’ve now got 3,500 new officers to help ease the burden. We are taking the action that needs to be taken.”

As of 2:00 pm, the protest has been called off by POA following an agreement with prisons minister Rory Stewart.

In an updated statement Mr Stewart said: “I am pleased that all parties have been able to bring a swift resolution to this action which, as I have made clear, was irresponsible and placed fellow staff and prisons at risk.

“The priority now must be to continue our constructive dialogue with the safety of our hard-working prison officers at its absolute heart. Ultimately our aims are the same – to see safe, secure and decent establishments that provide a positive environment for staff and prisoners.

 “I have demonstrated my absolute commitment to bringing about that improvement but it will only happen if all sides work together.”