Belfast Telegraph

Stress has staff dropping like flies

By Finlay Spratt

Our staffing levels have been cut to a ratio of one in 25 across the board to bring us into line with England.

We are about 80 staff short and on top of that sick levels are going through the roof.

People are dropping like flies with stress. You could be talking about being 160 short every day.

That's the dilemma we're in.

I can understand the problems management have. To be fair, the budget has been cut.

But my problem is prisoners are being locked up longer than they ever were.

Prisoners are being locked up at 5.30pm on a Saturday and 5.30pm on a Sunday.

I've called for the authorities to provide prison officers with pepper spray because they are so isolated.

If you have two officers looking after 50 prisoners, what happens if one has to go to the toilet?

There was a young officer seriously assaulted in the youth offenders' centre two weeks ago.

There was a female officer assaulted in Maghaberry on Thursday who ended up in hospital.

Assaults are up on members of staff.

Finlay Spratt is head of the Prison Officers' Association

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