Three prison officers have been hospitalised following an incident at Durham prison.
It is thought that four male officers, including one senior officer, were hurt in Tuesday’s incident, and three of them needed hospital treatment. One is thought to have suffered a broken nose. There are reports that four prisoners were involved in the attack on the officers, which happened as they approached two cells to open them.
No official details have been released regarding the incident or the extent of the prison officers’ injuries, although it is believed that prisoners shouting “PTSD” attacked the officers.
Kevin Thakrar, serving a life sentence for a triple-murder in 2007, was recently acquitted of all charges following a similar attack at nearby HMP Frankland in March. Although he pleaded guilty to the attack, during which he lashed out at prison officers with a broken bottle, he will not face punishment on the grounds that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the time. Craig Wylde, one of the officers seriously injured by Thakrar, said his successful defence had “opened the floodgates” for inmates to attack officers in prisons.
Speaking on Wednesday evening, Jenny Chapman, Darlington’s MP and Labour’s prisons spokeswoman, said: “This was predictable. Many of us said this would be the outcome.
“Inmates around the country will have got the message that disorder and violence when they’re inside won’t be met with the full force of the law.
“I think the Government needs to intervene to make sure inmates understand this won’t be tolerated. At the minute, they seem to be neglecting their duty to protect the safety of the workforce.”
Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association – which is considering a private prosecution against Thakrar, who was housed at Durham prison during his trial – added: “Prisoners will be aware of the verdict, which is a green light for them to assault prison officers and think they can get away with it by claiming PTSD.
“That’s why we feel so badly let down by the criminal justice system.”
The Prison Service spokesperson has said that both an internal and a police investigation have been launched to try to establish more details regarding the incident.
The spokesperson said: “Three prison officers from HMP Durham were treated at outside hospital for injuries sustained during an incident on Tuesday 15 November.
“Violence in prisons is not tolerated in any form. Assaults on prison staff are taken very seriously and this incident is now subject to an internal and police investigation.”