Prison officers 'end walkout' after court rules it unlawful

Prison officers are understood to be ending a nationwide walkout over health and safety in prisons after the High Court ruled the action illegal.

Dave Todd from the Prison Officers Association (POA) told ITV News: "We have achieved our objectives".

He added that he had served in the armed forces and "feels more vulnerable walking the landings in these prisons, than I did the streets of Northern Ireland".

Mr Todd said the POA would be meeting Justice Secretary Liz Truss within 48 hours for further talks.

Thousands of staff who took part in the mass walkout are now understood to be returning to work.

The apparent climbdown comes hours after the Government won a High Court injunction against the protest which ruled the action illegal and ordered prison staff to return to work.

The POA had previously said it would defy any attempt to try to stop the protest.

Prison officers have said the system is 'in meltdown' nationally. Credit: PA

Prison staff said the system was "in meltdown" with both inmates and staff suffering increased risk of harm.

The recent escape of two inmates from Pentonville had highlighted the increasingly rickety system, the POA.

Previous discussions with the Government over prison officers' concerns had broken down.

The walkout of thousands of staff left the prison and courts system in chaos.

The high-profile murder trial of Thomas Mair over the death of Jo Cox MP was among those which had to be paused as a result.

High Court judge Mr Justice Kerr, sitting in London, accepted the Government's urgent application for a ruling against the protest, saying the situation was "very concerning indeed".

One prisoner at Pentonville Prison in North London shouted through the bars: "We've only had one day out in three weeks."

The government has announced plans to recruit 2,500 more prison officers by 2018.

But as the prison population continues to grow, the number of people employed to manage inmates has fallen.

Liz Truss speaks with a custodial officer at HMP Brixton Credit: PA

Ms Truss today said that work was needed to make prisons "safe and secure" but the Government was already taking action.

She said talks between the union and the Government are in progress, and they were expecting to meet again on Tuesday.

She added that instead of working through the issues "the POA refused to respond to our proposal and called for this unlawful action without giving any notice".