Allan Jones has been left in almost constant pain after an assault at HMP Winchester
A 51-year-old from Hampshire is one of a growing list of prison officers who have been left in life-changing pain and suffering psychological trauma as a result of assaults in the workplace.
Allan Jones, from Basingstoke, had his arm broken when one of two fighting prisoners he was trying to restrain broke free and smashed Mr Jones on the forearm with a chair as he tried to attack the other prisoner.
Further prison officers arrived on the scene and Mr Jones was taken to hospital. He needed surgery and, while his forearm improved in a matter of weeks, he began suffering wrist pain, which was later diagnosed as a triangular fibrocartilage complex tear. He has also suffered anxiety and depression.
“I’d hoped to be back to normal health after the incident,” he said. “But we’re now five years on and the pain is quite simply excruciating. I’ve lost count of the number I consultants, clinicians and physiotherapists I’ve seen. Nothing seems to change.”
Six months after the incident, Mr Jones’ returned to work on restricted duties but was struggling to perform his job due to his ongoing physical injuries. Mr Jones’ condition failed to improve and almost two years after suffering his injuries, his employment with the prison service was terminated.
According to the Ministry of Justice, there were 34,112 assault incidents in the 12 months to June 2019, up five per cent from the 12 months to June 2018 . There were also 10,424 assaults on staff in the 12 months to June 2019, up 10 per cent from the previous 12 months.
He continued: “It has been the toughest few years of my life, without a doubt. I’ve been physically and mentally affected. My partner and I had bought a house prior to the incident, but without my salary we worried we were going to lose it all.
“The more I read the news, the more I realise I’m not the only one who’s suffered because of poor working conditions in UK prisons. The prison service needs to face up to the facts – the safety of its workers is paramount and more needs to be done to protect those working in dangerous working conditions.”
Mr Jones’ union, the POA, and Thompsons Solicitors are supporting him with a claim for compensation.
Mick Pimblett, of the POA, said: “Prison safety is a grim picture, and our member’s story is just one example of this. Assaults on prison officers are on the rise and innocent workers are being left injured, jobless and out of pocket as a result.
“We continue to fight to support our members if they’re victim of physical violence, and, just as importantly, put pressure on the prison service to up its game so this does not continue.”
Vincent Reynolds, the solicitor representing Mr Jones, added: “The safety of prison officers should be of utmost priority to those in charge, however, we’ve seen time and time again that this is simply not the case. Mr Jones gave more than 22 years of his career to the prison service and what has he got to show for it? A debilitating, painful condition and bosses who failed to take responsibility for their failings.
“It hardly seems like a fair trade-off.”