Prison officers set to halt work amid safety protest

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Thousands of prison officers will stop working today in protest over health and safety concerns, their union has announced.

The Prison Officers Association (POA) has directed all its members to take part in a day of protest after negotiations with the Government broke down.

Steve Gillan, the POA's general secretary, said as many as 10,000 prison workers will take part in what is effectively a strike where they will only provide emergency cover.

A POA spokesman said: "The continued surge in violence and unprecedented levels of suicide and acts of self harm, coupled with the recent murder and escapes, demonstrate that the service is in meltdown."