'Vicious and cowardly' stabbing at Whitemoor condemned by prison officers union
PUBLISHED: 11:25 10 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:25 10 January 2020
Union leaders representing staff at Whitemoor condemned as "vicious and cowardly" the attack by two inmates on prison officers yesterday (Thu).
Two prisoners on 'A' wing attacked one officer from behind with bladed weapons.
"Both attackers were wearing what appeared to be a suicide belt which was later found to be fake but staff would not have known that at the time," said a spokesman for the Prison Officers Association (POA).
"This was a sustained vicious and cowardly attack on brave prison staff which resulted in hospital attendance for five members of staff."
Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA, said: "There is no doubt in my mind that but for the bravery of staff then this morning we could have been talking about a death of a prison officer at Whitemoor Prison."
He said: "This was an extremely serious attack on hard working staff. Whilst a police investigation is ongoing it would be wrong to comment further.
"But suffice to say the POA has long campaigned for correct charges to be attributed to the perpetrators and once charges are laid and proven through the courts that the maximum sentences are given to protect our hard working and brave members."
Mr Gillan added: "We expect the police, Crown Prosecution Service and the courts to deal with violence against prison staff in a robust and effective manner".
He said the POA wishes all staff at Whitemoor a speedy recovery and he pledged to ensure they all receive aftercare.
"The POA also condemn the recent attacks on our members at Deerbolt, Holme House and Feltham Prisons," he said.
"Now is the time for Government and employer to work with the POA to restore control, order and discipline in the prison service.
Two inmates - one a convicted terrorist - secured bladed weapons to ferociously stab a prison officer in the face at Whitemoor as cells were unlocked yesterday morning.
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One member of prison staff who saw the aftermath of the incident described the most seriously injured officer as emerging with "gashes across his face and head with severe bleeding."
Four other prison staff were injured in the attack and another witness said the most seriously injured officer suffered a broken eye socket.
One of the prisoners involved in the attack was named as Brustom Ziamani, 24, who was jailed five years ago on terrorism charges. During his trial it was said he had been inspired by the murder of fusilier Lee Rigby. The court heard he had converted to Islam in 2014 and was arrested soon afterwards in possession of a 12 inch long knife and a hammer.
The other prisoner involved in yesterday's attack on officers is thought to be a fellow Muslim convert who had been jailed for violent crimes.
Counter terrorism officers were called to Whitemoor in the wake of the attack with the Met Police saying they had "deemed it appropriate" to send them "due to certain circumstances relating to this incident".
A prison service spokesman said: "The incident was quickly resolved by our brave staff and our thoughts are with the injured officers at this time.
"We do not tolerate assaults on our hardworking officers and will push for the strongest possible punishment."
In December we revealed that staff at Whitemoor where London Bridge attacker Usman Khan had most recently been an inmate, say he would have known his victim Jack Merritt leading them to be believe it was a targeted attack.
"The terrorist had been on the Cambridge University Learning Together programme which was being celebrated at Fishmonger's Hall, London" one officer told me.
"Khan had been on the course at Whitemoor and Jack Merritt had been one of those coming to the prison to help with the course.
"Jack had been in the prison so had met his killer - it was definitely a targeted attack"
Jack, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, both Cambridge graduates, were stabbed to death by Khan, a convicted terrorist, during an event to celebrate five years of the Learning Together programme.