Chief constables have admitted they will need to divert officers away from core police work to manage cells, if the illegal prison strikes continue.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has asked the Prison Officers Association (POA), which is leading the dispute, to consider the consequence of disrupting UK policing before taking steps to continue the industrial action.
Acpo said it had been aware of the “disquiet” within the POA for some time, and discussed the implications for operational policing recently.
Acpo president, chief constable Ken Jones said: “It is a matter of great regret that no advance warning was given to us, which would have allowed time to better contain the risks to public safety and security.
“We have well established contingency plans for local and national police action if required, and strong relationships exist between local forces and their prisons.”
Prison officers walked out for the first time in the history of the POA this morning, but the Ministry of Justice won an injunction against the strike making it illegal. The action was taken over a 1.6% pay increase offer – labelled “derisory” by the POA.
Some prison officers have returned to work since the injunction, but thousands have vowed to see out the 24-hour stoppage.