Prisoner saves another inmate from hanging in HMP Northumberland

Staff at the jail say they are unable to safely monitor prisoners due to cuts to numbers made at Sodexo ran prison. 

Simon GreenerHMP Northumberland

HMP Northumberland

A prisoner stepped in to prevent a fellow inmate taking his own life due to staffing shortages, it has been claimed.

An HMP Northumberland insider said the incident happened on the afternoon of January 20 when a prisoner in the one of the house blocks at the Sodexo run jail attempted to hang himself in his cell.

Staff claim their numbers have been cut drastically making it harder to ensure inmates are given adequate care.

In 2010 there were 441 staff at the jail but the number of workers dropped to 270 in 2013.

The member of staff, who was speaking anonymously, said: “It was mid-afternoon and a prisoner attempted suicide.

“Another prisoner saved him, he picked him up and took the ligature off and brought him down to the association room.

“On that wing there were four members of staff and now there are two.

“Relying on a prisoner is poor, normally it would be one of us who found him.

“We’re grateful the inmate did step in but it shows how little we can do.”

“We shouldn’t be in a position where we can’t safeguard.

“There is a very real fear someone is going to die and that’s not right.”

 

HMP Northumberland at Acklington Northumberland.HMP Northumberland at Acklington Northumberland

 

Sodexo said there was little that could be done to detect or prevent the incident.

On February 3 Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery raised his concerns in justice questions in the Commons again this week.

Speaking in Parliament he said: “Does the Secretary of State share my grave concerns at the recently published report by the chief inspector of prisons on HMP Northumberland?

“Does he agree if the Government do not do something, one of these serious incidents will turn into a tragedy that we all regret?”

Chris Grayling, justice secretary, failed to respond to the MP’s safety fears at the jail.

He said: “I have visited HMP Northumberland.

“It has been going through a period of transition, but the model of a working prison that will substantially extend the amount of work done by prisoners in that jail must be the way forward.

“I look forward to seeing improved inspection reports in future.”

In a statement a Sodexo Justice Services spokesman said: “We can confirm there was an incident at HMP Northumberland on 20 January where a prisoner required medical treatment.

“Our trained staff attended the prisoner and he did not need to be taken to hospital.”