Five HMP Highpoint officers taken hostage by prisoner

By Sally Chidzoy
BBC East home affairs correspondent

image copyrightGeograph: Roger Cornfoot
image captionThe category C prison is about six miles from Haverhill

Five prison officers were taken hostage at a Suffolk jail by an inmate wielding a twin-bladed weapon, it has emerged.

The stand-off at HMP Highpoint on 12 May came the day after a second hostage incident at the same prison and an inmate attack with a bladed toilet brush in Staffordshire.

The first - which took place on 11 May - involved a prisoner taken hostage inside a cell.

Both episodes, which ended without injury, are now under investigation.

The three incidents were revealed in an internal prison report seen by the BBC.

On 12 May, five staff members were taken hostage in an office by a prisoner armed with a weapon. Three officers were quickly released.

The inmate demanded a transfer, to be re-categorised and taken off the prison wing.

Prison Service Gold Command, the national group convened during serious incidents and disturbances, was deployed and the prisoner surrendered. The incident was also reported to police.

The previous day, staff had found four prisoners barricaded in a cell, and when they were able to see in, they saw one was tied up with a sheet over his head.

The prisoners surrendered five hours later.

image captionPolice outside Swinfen Hall Prison

Also on 11 May, a prisoner used a toilet brush studded with razor blades to slash and stab another inmate at HMP and YOI Swinfen Hall, Staffordshire.

The attack was filmed on a mobile phone smuggled in, the prison service said.

The victim suffered deep gashes to his head, face and ear before staff intervened and he was taken to Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham.

Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said: "Our prison system needs reform, which is why we are giving governors greater freedoms to innovate to find better ways of rehabilitating offenders.

"We have to ensure prisoners can be rehabilitated so they are no longer a danger to others."

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