Staff assaulted in two separate prison incidents

HMP Northumberland.
HMP Northumberland.

Safety concerns at HMP Northumberland have once again been raised after two members of staff were assaulted in separate incidents.

Sodexo Justice Services, which runs the Acklington-based unit, confirmed that it has launched an investigation into the attacks, which happened recently.

A prison insider, who asked not to be named, says the situation at the prison has become dangerous.

It comes just three months after guards contacted the Gazette about the lack of staffing, with one guard claiming it would only be a matter of time before someone is killed. It followed a guard being attacked by an inmate – allegedly having a homemade knife held to his throat and taken hostage. At the time, Sodexo did not go into details about the incident and just described it as an assault.

But following the two recent incidents, the Gazette has been contacted by a number of people, once again voicing concerns about the situation at the Category C adult-only prison.

One member of staff said: “There will be another major incident if something isn’t done. We are massively under staffed and staff are scared to go to work. It has become so dangerous.”

Earlier this year, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) published its report of the prison’s performance in 2015. The document showed that the number of self-harm and violent incidents had risen, while the IMB listed substance misuse as its most serious area of concern.

However, the IMB did add that ‘safety continued to receive a high level of attention’ and ‘specific actions are being taken to address the behaviour of the worst offenders and to reduce drug supply’.

Regarding the recent assaults, a HMP Northumberland spokesman said: “We can confirm there have been two unrelated cases of staff assault at the prison.

“We are investigating these incidents and it would inappropriate to comment further.

“Any act of violence or aggression against prison staff is unacceptable and we will continue to ensure that prisoners are held responsible.”