Prison officer attacked with pole

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
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A prison guard who was forced to use a chair to fend off a “frenzied attack” from an inmate with a steel pole at Albany Regional Prison last week, escaped with only minor injuries.

The WA Prison Officers’ Union said the officer was lucky to escape serious injury, suffering only scratches after the attack in the kitchen on Thursday, where the prisoner allegedly lunged at the guard with the stainless steel pole.

Union secretary John Welch said the prisoner had snuck into the kitchen area after earlier being stood down from his duties as a kitchen hand.

“This was a frenzied attack which could have been far more serious if the officer hadn’t been able to get a chair between himself and the prisoner,” he said.

“Luckily, the officer was able to escape with only scratches, but he was very shaken by the ferocity of the attack during which the prisoner smashed up the kitchen.”

Mr Welch claimed Albany prison was short staffed and had 11 fewer officers than it needed to operate the prison safely and overcrowding was again a contributing factor to violent incidents.

“To add to the pressure, the prison population at Albany has increased to around 384, which is at least 100 prisoners over what it’s designed to hold,” he said.

“When you have continued overcrowding, it leads to more violent incidents like this happening.”

Mr Welch said prison officers deserved a pay rise higher than the State Government’s newly announced salary policy which has pay rises capped at 1.5 per cent a year.

“This attack is a reminder that prison officers put themselves in harm’s way every day, and they deserve to be compensated for that, not forced into an agreement that in real terms will deliver them a pay cut,” he said.

A Department of Corrective Services spokesman dismissed claims Albany prison was overcrowded and said the assault was the subject of investigation and “any assault on our staff is a serious matter”.

The spokesman said the number of serious assaults on prison staff had dropped by 50 per cent from 0.18 per 100 prisoners in 2013-14 to 0.09 per 100 prisoners in 2014-15.

“Albany Prison is not overcrowded. It has a total capacity of 510, the muster today (Thursday) was 381,” he said.

“We do not comment on day to day staffing numbers for security reasons.”

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