MP condemns government for ‘shocking’ violence in maximum security prison

A database published by the Ministry of Justice has revealed a wave of violent incidents at HMP Belmarsh in London (Image: REX/Getty)

A MP from a parliamentary group representing workers in the justice system described a catalog of violence at HMP Belmarsh as ‘appalling’ in its ‘fierconess 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 life-threatening.

In one, an inmate is said to have slashed three officers with an improvised 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 went to hospital after suffering cuts to her head and neck following the attack, which is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.

Violence between inmates included one who was found strangling his unconscious victim with a ligature made from sheets.

He was also using his leg to place the victim in a chokehold, rendering him unable to free himself during the assault on a landing.

Mr Morris said: ‘These appalling attacks on prison officers at HMP Belmarsh revealed by Metro are truly shocking in their ferocity and frequency, but sadly not surprising.

Deputy condemns the government for 'shocking' violence in maximum security prison

Grahame Morris said the outbreaks of violence at Belmarsh were shocking but not surprising in light of his research (Image: Jess Hurd)

“Assaults on officers across prison grounds have skyrocketed since the government cut staff levels by a quarter a decade ago in the name of austerity, leading to the loss of almost 100,000 years of cumulative experience, according to figures that I dug up on parliamentary questions to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

“It is unacceptable for someone to go to work in fear of being bitten, beaten, stabbed with makeshift weapons, or having urine thrown at them and worse simply for doing their job.

‘Without safe and secure prisons, there is no prospect of rehabilitation, which means prisoners often relapse into recidivism and recidivism when they are released.’

Mr Morris echoed concerns raised by the Prison Officers Association, which also reacted with alarm to revelations of violence uncovered following a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice by .

Deputy condemns the government for 'shocking' violence in maximum security prison

A general view of inmates in House Wing Four at HMP Belmarsh in Woolwich, London (Image: Susannah Ireland/REX/Shutterstock)

The Labor MP for Easington is a member of the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group, which represents corrections officers and other frontline justice workers in Westminster.

“The government must urgently get the prison crisis under control and do whatever it takes to retain experienced officers,” he said.

“That also means better pay, terms and conditions, but instead the government has taken advantage of the strike ban by prison officers in England and Wales, making matters worse, for example by raising the age of retirement at 68 years, a cruel and unrealistic decision that has had a devastating impact on the morale of prison officers.

‘At a minimum, all prison operators (public and private) must have clear objectives to reduce violence and be held accountable if these objectives are not met.

“Conservatives like to present themselves as the party of law and order, but by normalizing prison violence they have shown themselves to be the party of increased crime and chaos in our penal system.”

Deputy condemns the government for 'shocking' violence in maximum security prison

The Ministry of Justice has published a catalog of violent incidents in Belmarsh (Image: In Pictures Ltd/Corbis via Getty Images)

Morris attacked the government’s record after the data set showed 226 violent incidents at Thamesmead jail between November 2021 and October last year.

They included prisoners who were stabbed with makeshift weapons, gang fights, and victims who were unwilling to speak up.

In another case, an inmate tried to ‘strangle and assault’ a female officer as she was breaking up a protest in a courtyard.

Other key workers were beaten, bitten and stabbed, and some had liquids and debris thrown at them.

The Ministry of Justice maintains that violent prisoners can be transferred to more secure conditions and more criminal prosecutions, and recently increased the penalty for assaulting prison officers to two years.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “To protect our brave corrections officers, we are equipping them with synthetic pepper spray, police-style restraint systems and body cameras, helping to reduce violent situations and providing evidence to prosecute attackers. to our workers.” staff.

“Our £125m investment in prison security is also tackling the drugs and weapons that fuel violence in prisons to keep staff safe.”

MORE: Officers stabbed, bitten and strangled in attacks on maximum-security prison

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