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Last Updated: Friday, 24 August 2007, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Morale 'crisis' in UK's prisons
Yusuf Jamma (l) and Muzzaker Shah
Yusuf Jamma and Muzzaker Shah have been charged with wounding
Prison officers are calling for an urgent meeting with the government to address a "crisis of morale".

Prison Officers Association (POA) chairman Colin Moses says staff face an increased risk of violence as well as being overstretched and underpaid.

His comments come after two members of the gang which murdered Pc Sharon Beshenivsky were charged with stabbing an inmate at Durham's Frankland Prison.

The Ministry of Justice said there was no evidence of an increase in assaults.

Frankland Prison, which houses some of the UK's most dangerous terrorist inmates, has seen several high-profile attacks in recent months.

In July, the jail cell of Hussain Osman, one of the 21/7 bomb plotters, was set alight.

If this is what happens in a successful prison, imagine what happens in those that are more overcrowded and under-resourced
Colin Moses, POA chairman

It followed an assault on another al-Qaeda inmate, Dhiren Barot, who subsequently spent five days in Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary after being scalded with boiling water.

Now Yusuf Abdillh Jamma, 20, and Muzzaker Imtiaz Shah, 25, face wounding charges over the alleged stabbing on 6 March.

Mr Moses said: "What's happening at Frankland is what we're seeing at establishments across the UK where staff are fully stretched due to lack of investment.

"We need a realisation that violence does not stop at the prison gates. As we face a more violent society we face more violence in prisons.

"Frankland is one of the UK's top facilities. If this is what happens in a successful prison, imagine what happens in those that are more overcrowded and under-resourced."

'Difficult environment'

Mr Moses said he had asked for a crisis meeting with Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman admitted prisons were overcrowded, but stressed that inmate numbers were within safe limits.

She said: "Prison officers work in an extremely difficult environment with some of the most difficult people in society. Despite an increasing population there is no evidence of an increase in the rate of assaults on staff.

"Pay rises for those at the top end of their pay scales have been below inflation for two years. But those still rising on the incremental pay scales are receiving above inflation rises."

Beshenivsky killers 'in attack'
12 Jun 07 |  Bradford
Probe into jail attack on bomber
22 Jul 07 |  England

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