Barrister advises Prison Officers’ Association in successful appeal against dismissal

Mon, 24 Jun 2019

Counsel at No5 Barristers’ Chambers has been instrumental in helping the Prison Officers’ Association win an appeal hearing, at which a Prison Officer was reinstated. The circumstances of the original dismissal brought into question how Prison Officers can protect themselves.

On the 20th February 2019 Mr Terry McCarthy, National Executive Committee Representative, was dismissed from the Prison Service pending appeal.

Colin Banham, who was instructed through Thompsons Solicitors, advised Mr McCarthy and drafted the appeal submission. Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the Prison Officer’s Association, represented Mr McCarthy at his appeal on the 21st of May 2019.

The case was likely to impact on how incidents are responded to in the future, as it put the spotlight on the use of force.

Mr Banham’s submission assisted the Prison Officers’ Association and its members raise concerns about the practical effect of PSO 1600 Use of Force and their members’ own ability to protect themselves. It was claimed that prison officers needed to feel that they could protect themselves in what are usually split-second decisions, and that they would be backed up by management when they did so. It was feared the dismissal had significantly undermined POA members’ confidence in both of these aspects.

After the successful appeal, the Prison Officers’ Association issued a Circular, which stated:

‘We know that many of our members are subject to poor decisions under the Code of Discipline and we also have major concerns about our members wrongly being disciplined over PSO 1600 Use of Force and Body Worn Video Evidence interpretations.

The National Executive Committee are engaging on all these issues with HMPPS in order to bring a common sense approach to all areas of the Code of Conduct application.’

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