Two female prison guards sexually assaulted by inmates at Pentonville

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Two female prison staff have been sexually assaulted at a “volatile” London jail blighted by deaths, violence and drugs, it was revealed today. 

The staff were attacked by inmates at Pentonville prison in separate incidents this year. The incidents were disclosed as the jail’s Independent Monitoring Board issued a highly critical report. 

It warns of “serious shortcomings” including “inhumane” living conditions, frequent violence, and many prisoners with psychiatric and drug problems. There were six deaths last year, including one homicide and three suicides, and two escapes. 

“There have been too many violent incidents — 10 assaults on staff a month, including two sexual assaults on female staff,” the report states. Failure to replace over 500 dilapidated windows is allowing drugs to be flown in by drones or smuggled via “throw-overs”, and putting staff and inmates at risk. 

The report says the “drug problem is a dominant challenge in terms of violence, gang structures, corruption and rehabilitation.” It warns of the prevalence of “spice’ — a synthetic narcotic designed to resemble cannabis. It has been linked to violence, psychotic episodes and death. “The prison has more prisoners with psychiatric conditions than any other local prison. A fifth of the population is on anti-psychotic drugs and a staggering two-thirds are on opiate substitutes,” it adds.

Pentonville is overcrowded and “squalid” and holds 380 more men that it should, the report says, adding: “Confining two men in a cell measuring 12 feet by 8 feet is not humane. One has to eat his meal in the cell while the other may be sitting on a badly screened toilet a few feet away. Blocked toilets, leaking sewage, and broken facilities mean prisoners regularly go without showers, clean clothes and hot food.”

The report says that Pentonville’s official capacity is 909 inmates but it is holding about 1,290.


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