Disturbances at prison site

A prison which has been at the centre of safety fears after being taken over by a private company has come under the spotlight again, after two incidents in a matter of days.

On Saturday afternoon, a staff member from HMP Northumberland, near Acklington, was injured after an altercation with a prisoner.

Then on Monday, prisoners were kept in their cells as a precaution while staff located a prisoner at the site.

A Sodexo Justice Spokesman confirmed that both incidents had occurred.

Speaking about Monday’s lockdown, he added: “At no point did the prisoner pose a safety concern to staff or other prisoners.”

The prison was taken over by Sodexo Justice Services in December and the firm announced that it was looking to reduce the number of jobs at the site. The announcement led to staff, politicians and the POA – the union for prison, correctional and secure psychiatric workers – raising fears about safety.

And at the end of March, grave misgivings about staffing levels at the site were reiterated following a ‘stand-off’.

The disturbance took place when around 50 prisoners refused to return to their cells in one wing at the prison, which is a merger of the former HMP Acklington and HMYOI Castington.