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Officer ‘in critical condition’ following Whitemoor prison assault

Whitemoor Prison: ‘There were also hot water assaults on staff on Sunday’

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A prison officer underwent surgery after being attacked inside high security Whitemoor Prison, Cambridgeshire, on Thursday. Forensic experts from the police scientific support unit were at the prison throughout Friday gathering DNA and other evidence to identify those responsible.

A source inside the prison – on the outskirts of the town of March – told CambsNews: “It was a serious assault on a prison officer on B wing. I am told he is in a critical condition and having emergency surgery today.”

The source said it was the most recent of a number of incidents at the prison.

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“There were also hot water assaults on staff on Sunday in a different wing, not so serious but still serious,” said the source.

Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Bav Media

Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Bav Media

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said: “We were contacted yesterday (14 March) with reports of a serious assault at HMP Whitemoor in Longhill Road, March.

“The victim of the attack was taken to hospital where he remains in a serious, but stable, condition.

“An investigation is ongoing.”

Whitemoor is currently at full capacity with the latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice showing that it houses 456 inmates – only one below its capacity.

This compares to just 315 inmates at Whitemoor when it was last inspected by prison authorities in December 2022.

Charlie Taylor HM Chief Inspector of Prisons published his findings in January 2023 and concluded it had “declined in three out of our four tests.

Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Terry Harris


Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“Staffing shortfalls were certainly a factor in this decline, but levels remained much higher than in most prisons.

“Despite being told multiple times that officers were too busy to attend to prisoners, we often came across them congregating in wing offices or standing in pairs on the wings talking to each other.”

Mr Taylor said: “There is no better sign of decline in a prison than a lack of cleanliness and at Whitemoor the wings were the dirtiest I have seen since I became Chief Inspector.

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Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Terry Harris


Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Floors, walls, serveries, and prisoners’ kitchens were filthy, there was rubbish lying around and bins were overflowing.

“The rigidity of the regime meant that cleaners were unlocked for as little as an hour a day, which evidently did not give them enough time to do their job.

“Prisoners said cleaning materials such as mop heads were, for some inexplicable reason, in short supply. “

The inspector added that when he walked around the jail, prisoners “frequently complained to me about the dirt, a contrast to their cells which most men kept in immaculate condition”.

Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Bav Media

Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Bav Media

Mr Taylor said prison managers rightly prioritised the security and keeping staff and prisoners safe, but the focus was on procedure – searching, controlled unlocks, maintaining the perimeter and providing support to some particularly risky individuals.

“They had failed to pay sufficient attention to the other things that motivate prisoners to behave, such as a predictable regime, cleanliness, access to work and education, and sentence progression,” he concluded.

“Many prisoners were angry and frustrated with the lack of opportunity to move on with their sentences, and this added to the level of risk in the prison.”

He said roll checks found 59% of prisoners locked in their cells “which was simply not acceptable in a jail where many men will be spending a substantial proportion of their lives.

Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Whitemoor Prison, March, Cambridgeshire, where forensics experts are looking for DNA and other evidence after a prison officer was seriously assaulted. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“There is much to be done to improve things at Whitemoor after this disappointing inspection, but there were some excellent staff and managers at the prison.

“There must be a determination to provide a much better regime and access to activities that give these prisoners a sense of meaning and hope as they serve their long sentences.”

 

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