Guys Marsh inmates call for action over 'gang violence'

Guys March Prison
Image caption Guys Marsh, a former young offenders' institution, is now a category C training prison

A group of inmates at a Dorset prison have signed a petition demanding action is taken to stop violence and attacks by fellow prisoners.

The petition signed by inmates at Guys Marsh in Shaftesbury was sent to solicitor Rhonda Hesling, secretary of the Prison Injury Lawyers Association.

She said they claim two wings at the jail are "out of control" and they are "frightened there will be a death".

The Prison Service said it did not tolerate violence or intimidation.

The document was signed by more than a dozen prisoners and had been smuggled out of the site, Ms Hesling said.

She said it read: "There is no CCTV here at Guys Marsh, staff are never patrolling or around, we could be killed or injured on the wings.

"There is a high level of assaults here by prison gangs who roam without challenge and bullying makes everyone feel unsafe, please help us."

'Out of control'

Ms Hesling, also a senior partner with Hesling Henriques solicitors, said the petition was passed to her by a prisoner who had contacted her after being seriously assaulted inside the prison.

She said two wings in particular were "running out of control" and "there's an absence of prison officers".

"It's clearly not something that is just one prisoner's view," she said.

"It would seem there's a systematic failure in the managing of these wings, which is resulting in robbery by other prisoners upon perhaps those who are more weakened and vulnerable.

"There's an atmosphere of intimidation and fear, and a real fear of physical violence.

"The weak and vulnerable are being beaten up and they are being bullied."

The Prison Service said in a statement: "Violence or intimidation in prisons is not tolerated in any form and we take the responsibility of keeping staff, prisoners and visitors safe extremely seriously.

"That's why we have a violence management system in place to deal with incidents quickly and robustly with serious incidents referred to the police immediately."

Ms Hesling said the Prison Injury Lawyers Association was investigating the claims and was speaking to all parties involved.

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