Page last updated at 08:25 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

Inquiry into Frankland jail inmate's attack on officers

Colin Moses, chairman of the POA, called for tough action to end prison violence

An inquiry has been launched to find out how an inmate at the high-security Frankland jail in County Durham managed to stab three officers.

The assault, involving a broken bottle, happened at 0830 GMT on Saturday. One of the two officers who underwent surgery is still in hospital.

The inmate is understood to be serving a 32-year sentence and was the subject of a punishment regime.

Officers were opening a cell door at the Category A prison at the time.

The female officer was stabbed in the back and her two male colleagues in the face, side and arm.

'Dreadful incident'

A Durham Police spokesman said one male officer remained in Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, after undergoing surgery for a stab wound to his arm.

Frankland is a category A institution housing high risk prisoners.

Colin Moses, chairman of the Prison Officers Association (POA), said: "If we can't stop violence in prisons, where can we stop it?

"We're seeing prison officers assaulted every day and what this dreadful incident emphasises to us once again is that prison officers' lives - and I'll put it as strong as that - seem to be at the bottom of the pecking order where this government is concerned."

Frankland jail
A number of high profile attacks have taken place at the prison

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice confirmed that the incident is now the subject of a police investigation.

"Violence in prisons is not tolerated in any form. Assaults on prison staff are taken very seriously and depending on the severity will be dealt with internally or referred to the police, " the MoJ said.

In 2008, HM Inspectorate of Prisons raised concerns about violence at Frankland, which has seen a number of high-profile incidents in recent years.

Terrorist Dhiren Barot suffered burns in 2007 when another inmate poured boiling liquid over him, and a few months later a convicted armed robber was injured in a similar attack.

The following year, trouble broke out when the cell of another terrorist prisoner, Kamel Bourgass, was set on fire.

Weeks later, a prison officer was injured during a riot when nine prisoners began smashing up their cells.

According to prison inspectors, Frankland holds some "extremely challenging prisoners", such as those with affiliations to gangs or a history of extreme violence.

It also houses prisoners convicted of serious sexual offences, some with severe personality disorders, and convicted terrorists.

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