GeoAmey prison escort staff sacked over alleged assault on inmate

Four workers for prison escort firm GeoAmey have been dismissed over an alleged assault on a prisoner in the cells of a court.

The security guards were accused of attacking the inmate at Hamilton Sheriff Court in March last year.

GeoAmey confirmed that four employees had been sacked as a result of the incident, however The Herald understands that no criminal case was brought against the individuals.

The allegations came to light in an employment tribunal involving a former manager for the company, Fraser MacIntyre, who was tasked with investigating the allegations, which were made by another member of staff.

Mr MacIntyre suffered stress and anxiety as a result of the investigation, as well as a string of other issues, and eventually felt forced to resign when GeoAmey failed to pay his wages while he was signed off work.

He has now won his case for constructive dismissal and unpaid wages and been awarded more than £13,000 by an employment tribunal.

A judgment on the case states: “In March 2020 the claimant was asked… to undertake an investigation in relation to an incident which had happened at Hamilton sheriff court.

“A prisoner had allegedly been assaulted by five of the respondent’s security staff while in custody.

“The complaint had been made by another member of staff who claimed they witnessed the assault.”

The tribunal heard that Mr MacIntyre took statements from the staff accused of the assault, who denied it, and the worker who reported it.

He also attempted to obtain a copy of CCTV footage from the court, but was told that it had been lost.

The judgment states: “His conclusion was that there was insufficient evidence to justify taking further action.”

Following this, he was told by bosses that there would be a separate investigation into his handling of the probe.

During this time, there were also other issues ongoing, including a complaint that had been made by the Sheriff Principal at Airdrie Sheriff Court over a lack of dock security.

Mr MacIntyre was then asked to gather daily performance information on staffing levels and court arrival times and provide weekly reports to his managers.

The judgment states: “He was aware that there were dock manning failures in other courts in Scotland for which he was not responsible, but understood the same process was not being followed in response to them.

“He felt there was a degree of inconsistency and injustice in the respondent’s approach.”

The tribunal heard that Mr MacIntyre was also suffering from personal problems and was signed off sick due to stress and anxiety in August last year.

He was asked to attend occupational health, but did not feel up to it.

GeoAmey then wrote to him in November warning that they would stop his pay if he again refused to attend.

He was due to be paid just over a day later and his wages were withheld.

Employment judge Brian Campbell said withholding the pay, at just a day’s notice, was a “repudiatory act”.

The judge stated: “It left the claimant, absent from work on grounds of stress and anxiety, very little time to respond before the effects of not receiving his monthly pay would be felt.”

He added that the firm’s actions were exacerbated by an earlier occupational health report which had warned that Mr MacIntyre’s mental health “was fragile and should not be put at further risk by way of exposure to work-related issues”.

Judge Campbell awarded him £11,255 for constructive dismissal and £2,022 for unpaid wages.

GeoAmey confirmed that four employees had been dismissed as a result of the incident at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

A spokesman added: “Whilst we are naturally disappointed that the tribunal did not find in our favour, we accept the verdict and will look to identify any constructive learning points for our business.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992