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Prison officers refuse to work after inmates seriously wound colleagues

PRISON officers staged a protest outside a Yorkshire jail yesterday and refused to work after two of their colleagues were seriously assaulted by inmates.

One officer was strangled to the point of unconsciousness and the other was punched in the throat during the incident at Lindholme prison, near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, on Thursday night.

When staff arrived at the prison yesterday morning, they refused to enter until they received assurances over their safety.

The perpetrators of the latest assaults could not be confined in the prison’s segregation unit because it was already full.

Prison Officers Association (POA) national chair Mark Fairhurst had to ring prison service chief operating officer Phil Kopple “to ensure my members had a safe place to work.”

Only when the assurances were given did the officers agree to go into the jail.

The POA said that staff at Lindholme faced a “daily battle” to maintain order and discipline.

Inspectors have given Lindholme one of the lowest possible ratings in the whole prison system.

The union said that following the latest assaults “no-one in management seems to care or be concerned” despite the volume of unauthorised articles going into Lindholme and prisoners’ use of psychotic substances.

General secretary Steve Gillan said: “The government and [prison service] must listen to staff and accept that our prisons are in crisis.

“The latest prison ratings prove that the concerns the POA has consistently raised are not being addressed.

“We have called for a back-to-basics approach to ensure security, safety and control are the priority of the service.

“Unfortunately, local management are being given the licence to do as they see fit and this often leads to unrest, violence and disorder. Things have to change.”

Recent inspections resulted in 50 per cent of prisons being classed as the subject of “concerns” or “serious concerns.”

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon called the incident “highly disturbing” and wished the injured prison officers a speedy recovery.

“Prison officers shouldn’t have to face this,” he added.

Peter Lazenby is the Morning Star’s Northern Reporter.

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