Belfast Telegraph

Prison officer 'feared she would die' after being slashed in neck by inmate

By Claire Williamson

A female prison officer thought she was going to die after being slashed in the neck in an attack by a male prisoner, according to a source at Maghaberry Prison.

The woman, who is a relatively new officer, was rushed to hospital after the incident involving an inmate who has a history of violence yesterday.

The prison officer suffered a serious neck wound and received emergency treatment at the Ulster Hospital.

She was slashed by a weapon made out of a razor blade and suffered a three inch gash on the neck below her left ear.

The officer has now been discharged and a police investigation has been launched.

It happened when the officer was on the prison landing and the inmate came out of his cell and attacked her.

Adrian Smith of the Prison Officer's Association said the officer had suffered a "pretty deep wound".

Mr Smith told the Belfast Telegraph the officer said to a colleague she thought she was going to die due to the amount of blood she was losing.

"Anybody knows the difficult and dangerous job that prison officers do and it's getting more and more dangerous with cuts to prison service budget and staffing levels," he said. "Unfortunately things like this will happen more often with drug problems in the prison.

"In Maghaberry the problem is improving and not as bad as it was a few months ago.

"I don't know if this was drug related, I don't know if the prisoner was high on drugs but I've asked that question and nobody has been able to give me an answer as of yet.

"There is no doubt that there is not as many prison officer's feet on the ground as there used to be and that doesn't help matters. Prisoners take advantage of there being less officers about.

"But that has been the problem for a few years now and the problem is just going to get worse."

Ulster Unionist justice spokesman Doug Beattie said there needs to be a "serious look" at investment in the Prison Service.

"This is happening more and more. There is a chronic under-investment in our prison service," he said. "We underestimate the risks prison service staff take very single day. These men and women do a fantastic job and are undervalued."

A Prison Service spokeswoman said:"A prison officer has suffered a serious injury following an assault by a prisoner in Maghaberry this afternoon. The Prison Service utterly condemns this attack and has referred the incident to the PSNI."

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