A STRIKE by prison guards across the UK has caused disruption to proceedings at Bradford Crown Court.

The Prison Officers' Association ordered its members across the country, including at HMP Leeds in Armley, to walk out at 7am this morning and to stay on strike "until instructed otherwise".

A number of court cases at Bradford Crown Court have not gone ahead today due to the strike, with defendants not being brought from the prison to the court.

Steve Gillan, POA general secretary, called for union members to protest outside their work from 07:00 BST on Friday until "instructed otherwise".

There was "unprecedented levels of violence" behind bars, the union said.

It comes after an inspection report on Thursday found inmates had effectively taken control at HMP Bedford.

The national strike follows an inspection report from HMP Bedford which found inmates had effectively taken control of the prison.

Steve Gillan, POA general secretary, said the government has overseen "the demise of the prison service over the last eight years."

He said: "We will now be demanding that the government provide safe prisons, meet our demands to improve personal protective equipment, reduce levels of violence and overcrowding."

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain has backed prison officers, offering solidarity with them over the strike.

He said: "Solidarity with POA staff in their protest against the shocking rise in violence and degrading conditions that prison officers have been subjected to.

"No one should have to face such treatment on a daily basis like they do."

The Labour Party has also given prison officers its "full backing" over the strike.

Richard Burgon, shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Prison officers should not have to go to work fearing for their personal safety.

"Labour is on the side of our hard working prison staff who have rightly had enough of the unnecessary danger and preventable assaults they are forced to endure every day.

"The Government needs to take urgent action to win back their support and guarantee their safety.

“We fully back the prison officers’ demand for urgent action to end the very real threats to their safety.

"To stabilise our prisons, the Government needs to launch an emergency plan with substantial new funds to end understaffing and overcrowding across the prison estate.”

Prisons minister Rory Stewart said: "Prison officers do vital and important work and we urge them to return to their duty stations, in line with their obligations to the law and thePrison Service.

"It's irresponsible for the POA to encourage their members to take this unlawful action. We are deploying our contingency plans but, by not turning up for work, these prisonofficers are putting their fellow staff and inmates at risk.

"Yesterday we doubled the prison sentence for anyone who assaults prison officers. We've also increased pay, provided tools such as body-worn cameras to increase security on the landings, and are investing £40 million to improve the estate and tackle the drugs problem which is fuelling much of the violence. And we've now got 3,500 new officers to help ease the burden.

"We are taking the action that needs to be taken."