Thirteen prison officers had to be taken to hospital after being assaulted by inmates at a young offenders institution (YOI) over the weekend.
The prison officers were among about 20 staff who were attacked during the unprecedented outbreak of violence at the young offender’s institute in west London.
One officer suffered a broken nose during the sustained and prolonged attack on staff at the prison and another was concussed after being repeatedly punched in the head.
The Prison Service said the assaults were “completely unacceptable”.
Several members of staff were also bitten during the violence in the section of the YOI known as ‘Feltham A’ which accommodates 150 males, most of whom are aged 16 and 17.
A prison service minibus was used to drive injured officers to a local hospital.
The prisoners involved will now face adjudication hearings and could be referred to the police.
A Prison Service spokesperson told the BBC:
“We will never tolerate violence against our staff and will push for the strongest possible punishment, which could lead to them spending more time behind bars.”
It also offered its sympathies to the “hard-working and committed” staff who were caught up in the violence.
Mark Fairhurst, chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association (POA), said violence had been escalating at Feltham for a number of weeks partly due to changes in the way it deals with inmates who misbehave.
Until December last year, disruptive inmates could be locked in a cell in the segregation block, known as the Care, Separation and Reintegration Unit, which is located in Feltham B.
But after the High Court ruled in 2017 that a 16-year-old had been held unlawfully in the block, and inspectors described the regime there as “impoverished” and “punitive”, its use for younger boys was reduced and eventually stopped.
Mr Fairhurst criticised the decision saying the lack of effective punishments for the most challenging prisoners was putting staff at risk.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to use sanctions,” he said.
He tweeted that the POA would “support staff and push for prosecutions”.
His members held meetings outside the jail on Monday to discuss their concerns and had talks with the Governor.
As an alternative to segregation, a new section in Feltham A, known as the Falcon Unit, began operating in March to give the most challenging boys extra support.
The Prison Service said it would contain “calm down” rooms by the end of the month.
When we were writing about this horrific incident, we could not help but notice that the inmates involved in this violence were being referred to as ‘children’ by some commentators and by some sections of the mainstream media.
Personally, I do not agree that they are ‘children’.
Prior to serving in the Met Police, I joined the armed forces aged 16. Did I consider myself to be a child when I joined up? Of course not.
Would the same people who are referring to these inmates as ‘children’ have regarded me as a ‘child’ if they saw me on the ranges with
Prior to joining the forces, some of my friends that I used to hang around with ended up on the wrong side of the law. Did they consider themselves to be children? No.
If aged 16, you are old enough to join the armed forces then you cannot be considered a child because that would mean that, as a child, then this country would have sent me to fight in a war.
I understand that some people will see these young men as ‘victims’ of ‘the system’.
But I would say to the people who hold these sort of views, as noble as they are, that if you was stabbed, shot or assaulted by a 16-year-old then you would probably not see your attacker as a ‘child’ owing to the extreme violence that some of these young men can and do unleash.
My thoughts go out to the incredibly hard-working prison officers who, on a daily basis, have to deal with the members of our society who, knowing the law, made a conscious decision to break it.
I am sure that some of the young lads at Feltham probably regret the decisions which got them in prison in the first place.
And hopefully, when they are released, they can have another shot a building a decent life for themselves.
But I find it hard to show any empathy towards the young lads who savagely beat the prison officers.
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