The MP condemns the government for “shocking” violence in a maximum security prison

Caption: Exclusive: The prisoner shouted

A database released by the Department of Justice has uncovered a spate of violent incidents at HMP Belmarsh in London (Image: REX/Getty)

An MP from a parliamentary group representing staff in the justice system has described a catalog of violent acts at HMP Belmarsh as “appalling” in its “savagery and frequency”.

Grahame Morris spoke after incident reports showed more than 200 incidents over 11 months in the maximum security prison, some of which were potentially life-threatening.

In one, an inmate is said to have wounded three officers with a makeshift weapon while shouting “kill all infidels” as he was unlocked for lunch at the south-east London jail.

One of the key workers was taken to hospital after suffering lacerations 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 from bed sheets.

He also used his leg to place the victim in a choke hold, which made him unable to break free during the attack on a landing.

Mr Morris said: “These appalling attacks on prison officers at HMP Belmarsh uncovered by the Metro are truly shocking in their severity and frequency – but unfortunately not surprising.

The MP condemns the government for

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

“Attacks on officers across prison grounds have escalated since the government cut staff in the name of austerity a quarter of a decade ago, resulting in a loss of almost 100,000 years of accumulated experience, according to figures I received in parliamentary questions found the US Department of Justice (MoJ).

“It is unacceptable for anyone to go to work and fear being bitten, beaten, slashed with makeshift weapons, or doused in urine and worse just for doing the job.

“Without secure prisons, there is no prospect of rehabilitation, which means prisoners often re-offend and re-offend after their release.”

Mr Morris echoed concerns expressed by the Prison Officers’ Association, who also reacted with alarm at the disclosure of violence that came to light following a freedom of information request from to the MoJ.

The MP condemns the government for

A general view of the inmates in Wing 4 of HMP Belmarsh in Woolwich, London (Photo: Susannah Ireland/REX/Shutterstock)

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

“The government urgently needs to get a grip on the prison crisis and do everything it can to retain experienced officers,” he said.

“It also means improving pay and working conditions, but instead the government has exploited the ban on industrial action by prison officials in England and Wales and made things worse – for example by raising the retirement age to 68, a cruel and unrealistic decision it has made had a devastating effect on prison officials’ morale.

“At a minimum, all prison operators – public and private – should be given clear targets for reducing violence and held accountable when those targets are not met.

“The Conservatives like to portray themselves as the party for law and order, but by normalizing prison violence they have instead emerged as the party to the increasing crime and chaos in our prison system.”

The MP condemns the government for

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

Mr Morris attacked the government’s records after the dataset showed 226 violent incidents at Thamesmead prison between November 2021 and October last year.

These included prisoners being slashed with improvised weapons, gang fights and victims unwilling to speak out.

In another instance, an inmate attempted to “strangle and assault” a female officer as she broke up a protest in a courtyard.

Other key workers were beaten, bitten and stabbed, and liquids and toiletries were thrown at some.

The MoJ claims violent prisoners face transfer to higher security areas and further prosecution, and recently increased the sentence for assaulting prison officials to up to two years.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “To protect our brave prison officers, we arm them with synthetic pepper spray, police-style shackles and body-worn cameras, help de-escalate violent situations and provide evidence to prosecute those who violate our hard-working.” Employees attack employees.

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

MORE: Officers slashed, bitten and strangled in attacks at maximum security prison

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Justin Scaccy

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