One prisoner has died and two others were seriously injured after being stabbed in an incident at HMP Pentonville in London, the Prison Officers Association has confirmed this evening (18 October). Both of the injured men are said to be fighting for their lives in hospital. No prison officers were hurt during the incident. The Ministry of Justice has yet to comment on the incident.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "Police were called to HMP Pentonville at approximately 15:30hrs on Tuesday, 18 October, following reports of a stabbing. Officers and London Ambulance Service attended and found three men – all prisoners – suffering from stab wounds.
"A man in his twenties was pronounced dead at the scene at 16:25hrs. Police are in the process of informing next-of-kin. A post-mortem examination will be arranged in due course. Formal identification awaits. Two other men, aged 21 and 30, have been taken to an east London hospital where they remain in a critical condition.
"A 34-year-old man – also a prisoner at HMP Pentonville – has been arrested in connection with the incident. He has been taken to a north London police station where he remains in custody."
In April (2016) a damning report by the Ministry of Justice said prisons were on the verge of meltdown with rocketing levels of violence, sexual assault and self-harm. According to The Independent the number of attacks involving knives rose from just over 200 in 2010 to almost 500 in 2015.
In September 2016, Conservative government justice secretary, Liz Truss, backtracked from pledges made by her predecessor to introduce a major new prison reform bill. On hearing about today's stabbing Labour's shadow justice minister Jo Stevens tweeted: "Whilst Tory Justice Secretary Liz Truss is "looking into" #prisonviolence, this is what's happening under her nose."
Built in 1842, Pentonville, on the Caledonian Road in north London, was originally designed to hold 520 prisoners, but currently holds around 1,200. In 2015 an unannounced inspection by chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick found Pentonville dirty, overcrowded, infested with vermin and violent. Half of those admitted required treatment for drugs or alcohol addiction.
Hardwick's report noted: "We saw new prisoners located in filthy cells with no eating utensils, toiletries or adequate bedding. Most prisoners felt unsafe; levels of violence were much higher than in similar prisons and had almost doubled since the last inspection."