Prisoners riot after COVID-19 enters Acacia Prison

He said staffing needed to be greatly increased to meet levels considered ‘safe’ by the Department of Justice.

“This situation was entirely predictable due to shocking staffing levels and poor morale and has now hit boiling point,” he said.

“Serco needs to stop putting profits ahead of safety and ensure there is enough staff to control the number of prisoners.”

Mr Smith said it was disappointing that Serco had waited until there were multiple COVID cases onsite before involving the union.

He said the union should have been involved in the strategy at the start of the pandemic and that prison officers faced risks every day in difficult and volatile conditions, ranging from safety issues and staffing shortages to heat stress and a lack of personal protective equipment.

Serco has been contacted for comment.

The Department of Justice on Saturday said all other prisoners in the impacted unit had so far returned negative rapid antigen test results but remained in quarantine awaiting the outcome of PCR tests.

Management had implemented further controls “including limiting other movement around the facility.”

It was last Tuesday that Serco reported a custodial officer had returned a positive PCR test and was isolating at home. Two more custodial officers and two non-custodial staff members had since also tested positive. The five staff were isolating at home and the two prisoners in the unit. Staff attending other prisoners in the unit were following COVID-19 safe practices.

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