A database released by the Ministry of Justice has revealed a wave of violent incidents at HMP Belmarsh in London (Picture: REX/Getty)
An MP on a parliamentary group representing justice system workers has described a catalogue of violence at HMP Belmarsh as ‘appalling’ in its ‘ferocity and frequency’.
Grahame Morris spoke after incident reports showed more than 200 incidents over 11 months at the maximum security jail, some of which were potentially life-threatening.
In one, an inmate is said to have cut three officers with a makeshift weapon while shouting ‘kill all non-believers’ as he was unlocked for lunch at the prison in south east London.
One of the key workers attended hospital after suffering cuts to her head and neck following the attack, which is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.
Violence among inmates included one who was found choking his victim unconscious with a ligature made out of bedsheets.
He was also using his leg to place the victim in a choke hold, making him unable to break free during the assault on a landing.
Mr Morris said: ‘These appalling attacks on prison officers at HMP Belmarsh revealed by the Metro are really shocking in their ferocity and frequency – but sadly are not surprising.
Grahame Morris said the outbreaks of violence at Belmarsh were shocking but unsurprising in light of his research (Picture: Jess Hurd)
‘Assaults on officers across the prison estate have soared since the government cut staffing levels by a quarter a decade ago in the name of austerity, leading to a loss of almost 100,000 years of cumulative experience, according to figures I unearthed in parliamentary questions to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
‘It’s unacceptable that anyone should go to work fearing they could be bitten, punched, slashed with improvised weapons or have urine and worse thrown over them simply for doing their job.
‘Without safe and secure prisons, there is no prospect of rehabilitation, meaning that prisoners often fall back into recidivism and reoffending when they are released.’
Mr Morris echoed concerns raised by the Prison Officers’ Association who also reacted with alarm to the disclosures of violence unearthed after a Freedom of Information request to the MoJ by Metro.co.uk.
A general view of inmates on House Wing Four at HMP Belmarsh in Woolwich, London (Picture: Susannah Ireland/REX/Shutterstock)
The Labour MP for Easington is a member of the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group, which represents prison officers and other frontline justice workers at Westminster.
‘The government must urgently get a grip on the prisons crisis and do whatever it takes to retain experienced officers,’ he said.
‘That also means improving pay, terms and conditions, but instead the government have exploited the ban on industrial action by prison officers in England and Wales, making matters worse – for example by raising the retirement age to 68, a cruel and unrealistic decision that has had a devastating impact on prison officer morale.
‘At the very …read more