A prison officer has been granted leave to sue for unfair dismissal after he was told to exchange his traditional shirt and tie uniform for a t-shirt and jogging pants.
The new dress code was introduced by the Prison Service to help staff ’empathise’ with young criminals.
Steve Brooks, an officer at Huntercombe Young Offenders’ Institute in Oxfordshire, said he was barred from a control and restrain course – a crucial step to promotion – because he refused to wear the new uniform, on the grounds that it did not encourage a respect for authority in inmates.
The Prisoner Officers’ Association (POA) said the Prison Service was guilty of “misguided ideology” perpetrated by people who want to “empathise” with violent young criminals.
Prison policy stated that officers should wear the “soft” blue uniform, a practice opposed by the POA.
The Prison Service, said: “There is no doubt at all that it is open to an employer of this type to require certain uniform standards – in this case for ensuring proper care for vulnerable juvenile offenders.