Inmate charged over razor attack on prison officer

A 25-year old prison inmate has been charged with grievous bodily harm after an officer had his throat cut.

Michael McKenna, of HMP Nottingham, is accused of attacking a 23-year-old member of staff at the jail on Sunday.

He has been charged with grievous bodily harm, attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm and a racially aggravated public order offence.

McKenna was due to appear at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Nottinghamshire Police said.

Prison Officers’ Association national chairman Mark Fairhurst said the officer, who was new to the job and still in his probationary period, needed 17 stitches after being attacked with a razor.

He has since been released from hospital.

An inspection report published last year found levels of violence at the prison were “very high”, with 103 assaults on staff in the previous six months.

Over the same period, there had been 198 incidents where prisoners had climbed on to safety netting between landings.

In the wake of the attack, prisons union the POA called for the roll-out of incapacitant spray to officers to be fast-tracked so that members have “equipment to deal with extreme violence”.

It said: “The Health and Safety of our members and indeed those in our care is paramount. Government ministers must now act swiftly before we are talking about a death of a serving prison officer.

“The violence in our jails as identified by this horrendous attack is at epidemic level and the union will not stand by and allow such attacks on our members.”

HMP Nottingham is a category B male prison which expanded in 2010 to hold 1,060 prisoners.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales – the definitive 1500-page annual reference book on prisons now in its 21st annual edition – said he found the issue around Pava spray ‘bizarre’.

Mr Leech said: “We allow all 18+ prisoners to have rechargeable e-cigarettes for Vaping; why don’t we just issue rechargeable electric razors?

“What I find really bizarre is that new entry Prison Officers under going their initial 12-week training are not at any point trained in the use of Pava spray.

“On their POELT course they are taught how to restrain prisoners, how to conduct cell extractions, and even how to blow a whistle properly – but deploying Pava spray does not form any part of their initial training before they are posted to their first establishment – I just ask the simple question ‘why’?”

 

Prison Officers: The Mental Impact of Physical Assaults

Prison officers picketing at under-fire prison HMP Bedford on Friday have told of the violence they have lived through.

A damning report from the prisons watchdog found a “complete breakdown” in order at the facility and the highest rates of assaults on staff in the country.

Richard Gilbert, an officer there for 14 years, described suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after being repeatedly kicked in the head by inmates.

The beating came in July 2016, he said, when he challenged a prisoner he suspected of possessing an illegal Sim card.

“I got pushed from behind, fell to the floor and a group started kicking me in the head,” he said.

He was left with concussion and remains on restricted duties, but the more persistent impact has been to his mental health.

“I’ve got PTSD and depression at the moment and I’m heavily medicated for that, and they’re looking to get me out of the service because I struggle to work with prisoners now.”

The timing of the attack was a significant one, he said, with that year seeing a freefall in safety due to staffing cuts and a rise in the use of new psychoactive substances.

At 42, the father-of-three faces a medical inefficiency dismissal and a struggle to find a new career.

At the other end of the spectrum is Ben Blunt, a 20-year-old who works in operational support.

During his 13 months in the role, he says he has been attacked up to seven times – a rate of once every seven weeks.

Mr Blunt, who lacks the self-defence training of a fully-qualified officer, told how he was seized by an inmate during one attack and was unable to raise the alarm.

“He grabbed my hands through the bars, pulled me towards him and started spitting and scratching at my hands,” he said.

“I was stuck, I couldn’t pull my alarm because the radio was on my side. It was an awful experience and shouldn’t happen.

“I’ve thought about becoming an officer many times but every time I get assaulted I just get pushed back.”

Both men said their attackers have never been brought to justice for those offences.

Brian Cooper, their branch chairman of the Prison Officers Association (POA), detailed further serious assaults, including a pool cue attack and one colleague who permanently lost the full-use of an eye because of a fractured eye socket.

“We’ve got the highest rate of assault of any prison in the country and the management are just not dealing with it,” he said.

Prison Officer has part of ear bitten off

HMP Nottingham
HMP Nottingham

A prison officer had part of his ear bitten off by an inmate during an attack at Nottingham Prison.

Nottinghamshire Police said it was called to HMP Nottingham just before 9.30am on Wednesday to reports that an officer had been assaulted by an inmate.

The officer was taken to Queen’s Medical Centre for treatment.

The Ministry of Justice said it has passed the matter to Nottinghamshire Police for investigation.

A spokeswoman for Nottinghamshire Police said: “Police were called to HMP Nottingham at 9.28am on Wednesday (July 30, 2014).

“A prison officer had been assaulted and suffered a wound to his ear. He was taken to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.

“An investigation is under way.”

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Prison staff do an excellent job and their safety and security is of paramount importance. Anyone who is violent towards them – or anyone else in prison – can expect to face severe consequences.

“We have referred this incident to the police and are helping them with their inquiries. We always press for the most serious charges to be laid against anyone who is violent in prison.”

Over 20% of Jails ‘of concern’ says MoJ

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The performance of more than a fifth of prisons in England and Wales is “of concern”, a government body has said.

Its annual ratings show 28 out of 126 jails, including the three opened under the coalition government, are “of concern” – the third of four ratings.

Only one – Brinsford Young Offenders Institution in Wolverhampton – got the lowest “of serious concern” rating.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said prisons “are still running safe and decent regimes”.

The prisons opened under the current government are Oakwood in the West Midlands and Thameside and Isis, both in south London.

Oakwood and Thameside both opened in spring 2012 and are privately operated.

Isis, a publicly-run jail for adults and young offenders in south London, opened in July 2010.

The ratings come from the National Offender Management Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice.

Its Prison Rating System (PRS) lists performance in four categories: public protection, reducing reoffending, decency and resource management and operational effectiveness.

Overall performance is graded into one of four bands.

These bands are – 4: exceptional performance, 3: meeting majority of targets, 2: overall performance is of concern, and 1: overall performance is of serious concern.

Separate figures show the number of prisoners who died in custody in 2013-14 was 225 – up from 181 in the previous year and higher than in any of the previous nine years.

The figures in the report only go back to 2004-05, but the next-highest figure in that period was 211 in 2011-12.

Of the 2013-14 deaths, 88 were recorded as self-inflicted, 127 were from natural causes, three were homicides and seven were listed as “other”.

Speaking about the number of deaths, justice minister Andrew Selous said the government was “working hard to understand the reasons for the recent increase”.

“But this is a complex issue and there is no simple explanation, with the prison population containing a high proportion of very vulnerable individuals,” he said.

Mark Leech, editor of the national prisons newspaper Converse said Chris Grayling was “ignoring the facts”.

Mr Leech said: “We’ve been warning Grayling for the last two years that his policies of savage budget cuts would have devastating effects and, now they are, he is choosing to ignore the facts when all the evidence is overwhelming.

“You cannot strip half a billion pounds from prison service budgets and expect it to carry on as if nothing has happened – all the more so at a time of record overcrowding and a massive shortage of staff – its sheer lunacy to expect that nothing will give – of course it will, and it is doing.”

Prison Officer Assaults up by 45%

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The number of serious assaults on prison officers by offenders has risen significantly under the coalition prompting one prisons expert to predict our prisons are on the verge of serious unrest.

A total of 543 assaults by prisoners on officers in jails were referred to the police in 2012, a 45% rise from the 374 assaults referred to police in 2010 when the coalition came to power, official figures showed.

The figure equated to nearly three assaults every two days in 2012.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said that dedicated and hard-working prison officers should not have to face violence at work and blamed the Government for allowing jails to become overcrowded.

Mr Khan, who unveiled the figures using a written parliamentary question, said: “How can ministers expect to rehabilitate criminals if prisons are dens of violence?

“On their watch, this Government have presided over prisons becoming more and more overcrowded and violent.

“We’ve seen call outs by the prison riot squad up sharply, and last year saw the highest number of deaths in custody for over a decade.

“And all the time prisoners are spending too much time idling away in their cells or on landings instead of undertaking meaningful activity like work, education or training.

“It’s not an overstatement to say that prisons are in crisis and the Government are either oblivious or simply don’t care.”

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is reviewing policy for managing violence in prisons.

Replying to Mr Khan’s question, he said: “NOMS takes the issue of assaults on prison staff very seriously. It currently has systems in place to deal with perpetrators quickly and robustly, with serious incidents referred to the police for prosecution.

“It is working with the police and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that prisoners who assault staff are charged and punished appropriately.

“NOMS is committed to exploring options to continue to improve how violence is tackled in prisons to keep both staff and prisoners safe. It is currently reviewing the policy and practice of the management of violence.”

Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisons in England and Wales said the rise in assaults was largely due to savage budget cuts.

Mr Leech said: “Since 2010 over half a billion pounds has been slashed from prison budgets, resulting in fewer staff being employed and as a result already attenuated regimes being reduced even further.

“You cannot expect prison Governors to do everything with next to nothing, our prisons cannot be run on a shoe-string and while Cameron, Clegg and Osbourne are sitting pretty in their ivory towers our prisons are in increasing danger of exploding – I’d like to see Cameron, Clegg and Osbourne manning the landings at Full Sutton for a day; they’d soon change their tune.”

Full Sutton prisoners cleared of officer kidnap – but guilty of threatening to kill him

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Two Muslim killers have been convicted of threatening to kill a prison guard at a high-security jail in East Yorkshire – but cleared of kidnapping him.

A trial at the Old Bailey in London heard Feroz Khan (left), 26, and Fuad Awale (right), 26, tried to take over HMP Full Sutton after an imam holding a prayer service at the jail offered his condolences to the family of murdered soldier Lee Rigby.

The pair targeted prison guard Richard Thompson, believing him to be ex-British military, and demanded the release of hate preacher Abu Qatada.

Khan battered Mr Thompson, fracturing his eye socket, before threatening to kill him.

The jury convicted Khan of making threats to kill and causing grievous bodily harm after 13 hours’ deliberations. He was cleared of false imprisonment and assaulting a second prison guard, Rachel Oxtoby.

Awale was convicted of making threats to kill but cleared of false imprisonment.

A third man, convicted killer David Watson, 27, was also cleared of false imprisonment.

The two men will be sentenced on April 7th.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom, lead for the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “The incident at HMP Full Sutton was terrifying for all involved and in particular the prison officer who found himself at the centre of this attack.

“This attack was unprovoked and pre-planned. Thankfully, Khan and Awale were prevented from carrying out their threats in full and prison staff escaped with serious, but not life threatening, injuries.

“Khan and Awale are dangerous, violent individuals who threatened the lives of innocent people. They have shown they deserve no place in our society and we are grateful that they will remain behind bars for the foreseeable future.”

The Old Bailey heard relations between staff and Muslim inmates at Full Sutton had become tense following Drummer Rigby’s death last May 22.

Four days later, Mr Thompson was ambushed as he walked into a cleaning office on the prison’s Echo Wing and held hostage for nearly five hours.

As Mr Thompson was pinned to his chair, Awale pointed a sharp implement at his throat and said: ‘Stop struggling, I’ve killed two people – I’ll kill you’.

Khan told prison guards outside the office that only a few were allowed to remain for negotiations – which included the release of Qatada, then awaiting deportation to Jordan to face terror charges.

After the siege was broken up by riot officers, Khan made a full confession, stating the attack had been his idea.

Mr Thompson was treated for his injuries at York Hospital’s A&E while another guard suffered bruising and scratches to her arm during the struggle.

Khan, Awale and Watson were all serving life sentences for murder at the time.

On February 26, 2007, Khan shot his friend Skander Rehman in the back of the head at point blank range after luring him to a park in Bradford – wrongly believing he was having an affair with his wife.

He began practising Islam at HMP Wakefield where he claims staff treated him differently once he grew a beard and started praying.

Like Khan, Somali-born Awale became a devout Muslim once he had been convicted of the double murder of two teenagers, shot in a Milton Keynes drug war in January last year.

Watson, a white Muslim convert, stabbed a security guard to death at a HMV store in Norwich’s Chapelfield shopping centre after being caught with a stolen CD on December 18, 2006. He converted to Islam following his conviction in August 2007.

HMP and YOI Ashfield – high levels of violence and use of force by staff

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HM Chief Inspector of Prisons,Nick Hardwick, above, in a report on Ashield Young Offender Institution published today says:

In January 2013, the Justice Secretary announced plans to close HMYOI Ashfield and re-role it as an adult prison. The inspectorate had plans to conduct an unannounced inspection of the establishment in February 2013. We decided to proceed with the inspection to ensure that the young people who continued to be held there were held safely and decently during the transition, and that plans in place to ensure their move to another establishment or release were well managed.
We focused the inspection on areas of greatest concern and produced this truncated report more quickly than usual so it could be of use before the establishment closed. Because we did not look at every area of the establishment, we have not graded it against each healthy prison test, as is our normal practice. As usual, we gave immediate, detailed feedback to the establishment and Youth Justice Board (YJB) at the end of the inspection.
At the time of the inspection, the establishment was just one-third full and held 123 young people, most of whom were aged 16 or 17. This compared with a population of 332 at the time of our last inspection, and an average of 237 in 2012. Ashfield had an operational capacity of 360.
Our concerns about safety appeared to have been justified. Despite the reduction in numbers held, there had been a sharp increase in self-harm incidents since the closure announcement. The number of formal disciplinary proceedings or adjudications was high, and fights and assaults accounted for two-thirds of the charges laid. The highest number of adjudications per 100 of the population was in January 2013. Levels of violence were high. There were 351 fights and 377 assaults in 2012 and staff told us there had been an increase in the overall number of violent incidents since the closure announcement. In the 12 months to January 2013, there had been 43 serious fights, of which 37 had resulted in serious injury and six in minor injury. Five staff had been assaulted in the same period. Use of force by staff was also high in 2012 and two boys had suffered broken bones following staff use of force.
As at other young offender institutions (YOIs), young people were routinely strip-searched when they entered or left reception. Of 3,773 such searches over the last 12 months, just one had resulted in a find.
Despite the levels of violence, young people did not tell us they did not feel safe. We were also pleased that the segregation unit had been closed since our last inspection, and there were some good systems to address the particularly poor behaviour of some young people.
The environment was reasonable, although needing some attention. Young people could have telephones in their cells, which was a good initiative. Relationships between staff and the young people were good. We were impressed by the way in which staff put their own anxieties about the change aside and did not let this affect their dealings with the young people. Health care was good.
Young people had good access to education and training. However, with the rundown of the establishment it was increasingly difficult to motivate the young people and there was a concern that provision for those transferring elsewhere would not be effectively linked to the work they had done at Ashfield.
During the course of the inspection, we were particularly concerned about resettlement and transition planning. There was a lack of effective joint strategic planning between the YJB and Ashfield. Poor communication between the interested parties was causing widespread confusion. Young people were becoming increasingly agitated because they did not understand what was happening. Some services would be discontinued before all young people had left Ashfield. Overall, we were not confident that the best interests of the young person were always considered.
We have reported our concern about high levels of violence at a number of recent inspections of YOIs holding children and young people. At Ashfield too, young people’s safety was compromised because they were exposed to unacceptable levels of violence – and there is some evidence the situation has deteriorated since the closure decision was announced. Planning for the closure itself was not effectively coordinated between the YJB and Ashfield, and the needs of individual young people were not carefully considered. The anxiety and uncertainty this created may well have contributed to the tension at the establishment. It certainly means that young people are not being adequately prepared for transfer or release. The establishment and the YJB will need to work effectively together, not just to improve the situation but also to ensure it does not deteriorate further.

Ashfield – high levels of violence and use of force by staff

Ashfield Children

Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, in a report to be published at midnight, says that in his final inspection of HMYOI Ashfield before it is re-roled from a juvenile institution to a category C adult male prison for sex offenders, he found there were high levels of violence, self-harm, along with high levels of force by staff in which two prisoners suffered broken bones.

Check back after midnight for full details of this shocking report.

Muslim prisoners ‘injured’ after refusing to join Muslim prison gang

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An increasing number of Muslim inmates complain they are being intimidated to join the Muslim Brotherhood, a prison gang, and some have received injuries following a refusal to do so.

Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said he was aware of an ‘increasing number of complaints’ from Muslim prisoners in the High Security prison estate who claim to have been intimidated to join the prison-based ‘Muslim Brotherhood’.

Mr Leech said: “Radicalisation of Muslims in the High Security Estate is nothing new and the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood is equally well-known, what I find disturbing is that I have seen an increasing number of Muslim inmates and their families complaining that their loved ones are being intimidated into joining this group and some have received injuries, perhaps unconnected with their refusal, after persistently declining to join.

“One firm of personal injury solicitors I am in touch with confirm they act for a Muslim inmate seriously injured in Full Sutton prison after he continually refused to join the Full Sutton Muslim Brotherhood – unusually and perhaps of significance is the fact that prison staff at HMP Full Sutton have given evidence supporting his case.

“Prison gangs like the Muslim Brotherhood can feed on fear and perpetrate a belief that there is safety in numbers – we should not forget that the Prison Inspection report published in April 2013 on Full Sutton said:

We had two main areas of concern. First, the perceptions of black and minority ethnic prisoners and Muslim prisoners about many aspects of their treatment and conditions were much more negative than for white and non-Muslim prisoners. For example, significantly fewer told us staff treated them with respect and significantly more said they felt unsafe.

“Treating all prisoners with respect and equality is the challenge for the management of Full Sutton, a Maximum Security prison which in so many other respects has shown itself well able to rise to difficult challenges and overcome them – and on this important one it must not be allowed to fail.”

RATHBAND FOUNDATION – WHY EXCLUDE PRISON OFFICERS?

Mark Leech, Editor of Converse and The Prisons Handbook

 

CONVERSE PRESS RELEASE

The National Prisoners Newspaper for England and Wales

10th March 2012, 1400hrs – NO Embargo

“Rathband’s Law – Why Exclude Prison Officers”

As the Memorial Service got under way for PC David Rathband with a call for donations to his ‘Blue Lamp Foundation’ that seeks to provide help to those injured in public emergency services, the national prisoners newspaper Converse has asked why once again prison officers who are injured are excluded from the fund.

Mark Leech, editor of Converse said: “Questions from the national prisoners newspaper as to why prison officers are excluded from help by this foundation may seem strange, but we believe everyone in the prison environment has the right to be safe – whatever side of the cell door they may stand on.

“There were 2,856 assaults on prison staff in 2010-11, of which 304 were classified as serious.

“Prison officers fulfil a vital but often unseen role in our society, taking care of dangerous individuals who the ’emergency services’ often pass on to them without recognition – it is time they were acknowledged for the work they do and the terrible injuries they so often suffer in silence.”

Ends