Prison chiefs in the U.K. were urgently seeking a court injunction Tuesday to force thousands of prison officers back to work amid a 24-hour protest over the soaring level of violence at jails in England and Wales, reports the Guardian. The disruption has meant that several trials have been halted, including that of Thomas Mair, the man accused of the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox. Though emergency cover is being provided, the action by the Prison Officers’ Association at every jail in England and Wales means prisoners are not being unlocked from their cells, a dangerous situation, officials said.
A U.K. prison official said the officers’ protest amounted to an illegal strike. The union instructed members to stage protest action outside their jails for 24 hours until midnight on Tuesday. The union said it had consistently raised issues about the “volatile and dangerous state of prisons, as chronic staff shortages and impoverished regimes has resulted in staff no longer being safe a lack of discipline and prisoners taking control of areas.”