Two London prisons are facing staffing shortages this Christmas.
Extra officers are having to be sent to HMP Feltham and HMP Wormwood Scrubs over the festive period to make up the shortfall.
In total more than 230 prison officers are being deployed to seven prisons across the country in what campaigners have called a 'major crisis' for the service.
The Chair of the prison watchdog says morale among staff and prisoners is so low due to cuts that she fears there could be riots. The watchdog says Wormwood Scrubs prison is on a "knife edge" with inmates being locked up for up to 23-and-a-half hours a day.
The watchdog says there has been a 50% rise in use of force and restraint of prisoners at the Victorian prison.
The report from the Independent Monitoring Board continues:
- Prisoners spend too long in their cells and their frustration regularly spills into aggressive behaviour
- There has been a 48% increase in staff using force or restraining measures to control prisoners
- It comes ahead of cuts by Justice Secretary take effect when the budget will be cut by a further 21%
Source, IMB Wormwood Scrubs
A report claims that Wormwood Scrubs prison is 'on a knife-edge', with staff revealing they have "never felt so fearful". Details have been released in the prison's annual report.
One extract of the report by the Independent Monitoring Board says: "Cuts in staff not only negatively affect the Ministry of Justice's key incentive to rehabilitate prisoners. The absence of one or two prison officers due to illness or holidays can have a huge impact on the prison regime."