The Ministry of Justice has been forced to pay out compensation to seventeen staff contaminated by dirty needles in drug-ridden prisons over the past six months.
Settlements, including legal costs, came to £660,000 from 2016 to 2021 after staff contracted diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV on the job from sharps injuries.
Needle injuries can happen when prison officers scour inmates’ cells for drugs.
There’s no vaccine for hepatitis C or HIV, meaning officers have no protection against the disease.
According to The Hepatitis C Trust, prisoners are up to 28 times more likely to carry hepatitis C than the general population, with a prevalence as high as one in five in some institutions.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has even had to set up a hotline for prison officers who fear they’ve been contaminated.
Infections can occur after being pierced with a contaminated needle, bitten by a carrier or splattered with bodily fluids.
From September 2020 to August 2021, official figures show the bloodborne disease hotline received 113 calls from prison staff concerned about their infection status.
A spokesman for the MoJ said that the safety of their staff was their highest priority and they were spending £100 million to bolster security across the prison estate.
The spokesman said that they’d already supplied PPE and additional training to protect staff from needle injuries, which had led to a decline in claims.
How is it that these prisons are drug-ridden anyhow unless of course they’re being run by unskilled people? And what has our Government been doing about it for the past 12 years?
These Prison Officers do a thankless job, but they’re only ever criticised for it, and how on earth are these prisoners getting these drugs because since COVID there were no visitors permitted in the prisons to see inmates, and what is the outcome for these prisoners that are found to have drugs, drug paraphernalia and other contraband?
Sadly though, since COVID numerous prison officers have been off sick with COVID and there have not been enough prison officers to go around, therefore prisoners were locked in their cells because of this.
Perhaps we should be asking the Ministry of Justice how prison staff allow drugs and syringes to get into prisons in the first place.
Sadly our streets and prisons are riddled with crime and drugs and yet our Government want to keep taking in more and more people on a shoestring budget rather than using the much-needed resources to sort out the chaos this country is in.