Prison officer stabbed at jail for young offenders in Staffordshire
A prison officer has been stabbed in an incident at a jail for young offenders.
The staff member at HMP/YOI Swinfen Hall was attacked on Friday, but it is understood the injuries were not serious and they were able to leave hospital later that day.
Security has been increased as well as searches, since the incident, and police are investigating.
A Prison Service spokeswoman said it would be seeking “the strongest possible punishment”, adding the Government had already introduced tougher sentences for those convicted of assaults on prison officers.
The incident came as a report published on Tuesday by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIC) found the jail had “made progress” on safety but still needed to make improvements, after concerns were identified in a 2018 inspection.
The site houses 570 young male long-term inmates and was inspected across three days, in July.
Carrying out an interim independent review at the jail, the chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke described “mixed” findings.
He said management at the prison near Lichfield, Staffordshire, had “made progress” on safety and activities for inmates, but progress in other areas had started “too late to have an impact” when inspectors visited.
Inspectors said: “In 2018, the fundamental issue requiring attention was the poor regime, which had a negative impact on every aspect of prison life.
“We found that it was disrupted about 60% of the time, limiting prisoner access to work and education.”
Last year’s visit highlighted a lack of time out of cells, having “an acute effect on younger prisoners” and inmates “vulnerable or prone to committing acts of self-harm”.
“It also prevented the development of prisoners’ constructive relationships with staff, family contact and basic living conditions,” said Mr Clarke.
“All of this inevitably had a negative impact on prisoners’ feelings of wellbeing and prevented the prison from fulfilling its objectives as a training prison.”
During the recent interim visit, inspectors found the prison’s regime had made progress against half of a selection of key recommendations, set following last year’s visit.
There had been “insufficient” or “no meaningful progress” in the other markers.
Mr Clarke said: “This mixed picture masks the important work to improve safety and purposeful activity that had taken place.”
On safety, the report found the prison “faced significant external challenges” since last year, after receiving a transfer of prisoners from Aylesbury after that jail’s capacity was cut.
“This contributed to a spike in violence earlier in 2019,” the report concluded, but management had made “tangible progress”.
It added that levels of self harm “remain a concern”.
Despite improvements in staff-prisoner relationships, inspectors also found “overall too few prisoners thought they were treated with respect or had a member of staff to turn to with a problem”.
Responding to the stabbing, a Prison Service spokeswoman said: “A prison officer received hospital treatment after an incident at HMP Swinfen Hall and was discharged the same day.
“The police are investigating and we will push for the strongest possible punishment.
“This Government has doubled the maximum sentence for those who assault prison officers and last month committed an extra £100 million on airport-style security to crack down on crime in prisons.”
As well as equipping prison officers with body-worn video, Pava spray and police-type restraints, tougher sentences for those assaulting staff have been brought in.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers Act doubled the maximum jail term for assaults on prison officers from six to 12 months.
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