THE UK'S biggest trade union for prison staff has slammed government policy and blamed a surge in violence and drugs at HMP Bullingdon on austerity after a new report claimed the lives of prisoners and staff were being put at risk.

The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers [POA] was commenting after the annual Independent Monitoring Board report for the prison near Bicester found that a surge in violence and drug misuse posed a safety risk to staff and inmates.

Spokesperson for the trade union that represents prison workers Glyn Travis said that the findings in the report came as no surprise and were a result of years of austerity and current government policy.

He said: "HMP Bullingdon is an important part of the local community and the local community should expect prisoners to not have drugs, or mobile phones and for there to not be violence.

"The reason for this report is that prisoners are now faced with the consequences of eight years of austerity, the lack of staff and the lack of experienced staff.

"Prisoners have taken control of the prison in that they don't care for the criminal justice system and sadly it is a cocktail of disaster."

Earlier this month, the annual Independent Monitoring Board report was released, highlighting how prisoner-on-prisoner assaults and attacks on staff had surged in the last year.

Fights and drug finds also went up according to year-on-year data, with the report authors blaming 'debt-related bullying, gang activity and the volatile nature of young prisoners'.

Other issues highlighted in the report include an 'endemic' loss of prisoner's property, both inside prison and during transfers, and the provision for older prisoners and those with mental health or language difficulties.

Speaking of the picture nationally Mr Travis said that the Oxfordshire prison was 'a mirror' of prisons elsewhere and said that the worsening picture was present in all such institutions all over the country.

He added that the trade union was seeing staff 'completely demoralised' with assaults in prisons rife and with a lack of proper resourcing.

Also speaking of the findings Vicki Talbot, chairman of IMB Bullingdon who wrote the report, said previously: "Once again the Board is seriously concerned by the levels of violence and illegal drug use in Bullingdon prison.

"In our view the prison has suffered greatly in the past from lack of adequate resources to tackle these difficult issues.

"We’ve previously highlighted these matters to the Minister, as indeed have other IMBs around the country."

Figures from the report showed that there were 184 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults this year compared to 123 between July 2016 and June 2017. For the same period there was 126 assaults on staff this year compared to 86 last year.

Fights surged from 61 last year to 101 now and the times that officers used force went up from 506 occasions to 636 in just one year. Drug finds increased from 149 to 249 in a year and discoveries of mobile phones increased from 59 to 153.

The report did note some positives and found that prisoners were generally treated both 'fairly' and 'humanely' by staff.