Around 40 members of staff at Lincoln Prison have walked out in a row with the government over staffing and safety concerns.
A national day of action was called by the Prison Officers Association (POA) until midnight on Tuesday, November 15.
Staff taking part in the protest outside the prison on Greetwell Road in Lincoln spoke to Lincolnshire Reporter about facing increasingly frequent assaults and a 20% shortage of frontline officers.
Paul Wray, branch chairman of the Prison Officers Association at HMP Lincoln, said: “We’re severely understaffed and we’re trying to do what we can to make it work. But enough is enough. It’s just not safe.
“Nationally and locally assaults are up. It’s happening on a very regular basis. Sometimes on a daily basis. We just haven’t got the staff to look after everyone in our care properly.
“There should be around 120 frontline prison officers at Lincoln Prison and at the moment we are about 20% short on that.
“I’d like the government to listen to us and stop sacrificing our safety for the sake of saving pounds.”
The union said in a statement: “The POA has consistently raised 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.
“The continued surge in violence and unprecedented levels of suicide and acts of self harm, coupled with the recent murder and escapes demonstrate that the service is in meltdown.”
The Ministry of Justice has fiercely condemned the action, describing it as “unlawful”.
An MOJ spokesman, said: “There is no justification for this action.
“We have been engaged in constructive talks with the POA over the last two weeks and have provided a comprehensive response to a range of health and safety concerns.
“The government has announced an additional 2,500 frontline officers to help reduce violence in prisons.
“We have well established contingencies in place to manage prisons and keep the public safe but we are clear that this constitutes unlawful industrial action, and we will seek remedy in the courts.”
In September, Lincoln Prison was placed under a 24-hour lockdown after prisoners began rioting, causing significant damage to cells.
Some 30 inmates were forcibly removed from the Category B men’s prison. They are subject to an ongoing police investigation.