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Counter-terrorism police investigate attack on prison officers

UK news Counter-terrorism police investigate attack on prison officers

Incident at HMP Whitemoor involved prisoners reportedly wearing fake suicide vests

Officers at HMP Whitemoor were taken to hospital after the incident on Thursday. Photograph: PA Media

Counter-terrorism police are investigating an attack by two inmates on prison staff at a maximum security prison.

The two prisoners involved at the incident at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire were wearing fake suicide vests and were brandishing improvised bladed weapons, according to reports.

Five prison officers were taken to hospital after the incident.

The Metropolitan police said its counter-terrorism command unit had been called in to the maximum security prison “due to certain circumstances relating to this incident”.

No arrests had been made so far, the force said.

A Prison Service spokesman said the incident was “quickly resolved by brave staff – and our thoughts are with the injured officers at this time”. He did not state the nature of the injuries.

The statement added: “We do not tolerate assaults on our hardworking officers and will push for the strongest possible punishment.

“We have referred the incident to the police and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

HMP Whitemoor is a 458-capacity maximum security prison housing more than 400 Category A and B prisoners on three wings, including a number of the highest-risk inmates.

In a statement, the Met said: “Due to certain circumstances relating to this incident, it was deemed appropriate for the investigation to be carried out by officers from the Met police counter terrorism command.

“However, we must stress that at this early stage of the investigation we are keeping an open mind with regards to any motives and enquiries to establish the full circumstances of the incident are ongoing”.

In February 2019, a small number of prison staff had to receive medical treatment after violence broke out at the prison.

Usman Khan, who carried out a terrorist attack in London Bridge on 29 November before being shot dead by police, had previously served a sentence at HMP Whitemoor.

In 2015, it emerged that an inmate at Whitemoor was kept in segregation for two-and-a-half years.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for HMP Whitemoor also revealed that it held seven of the 24 prisoners detained in segregation for more than six-months across England’s high-security jails.

Inspectors said a staffing “merry-go-round” meant staff at the segregation unit had been inexperienced and their management had been “poor”.

Prison rules enable a governor to arrange for a prisoner to be segregated – kept away from other inmates – for up to 72 hours, before seeking authorisation from the secretary of state.

Inmates can be segregated if they are deemed to be in danger, if they are deemed dangerous towards other prisoners or as punishment for disruptive behaviour.

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