Adebolajo injuries probe: Prison officers suspended

Michael Adebolajo Michael Adebolajo was injured during an incident in Belmarsh prison

Five prison officers have been suspended as police investigate claims that a Woolwich murder suspect was injured while being restrained.

Michael Adebolajo reportedly lost teeth in an incident at London's Belmarsh Prison on Wednesday.

The Prison Officers Association denied any wrongdoing by officers, saying a prisoner was restrained using approved techniques.

The suspect is accused of killing Fusilier Lee Rigby in May.

The POA has criticised the Ministry of Justice for failing to take action to stop what it called "sensationalist reporting" of the incident.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, POA chairman Peter McParlin said: "The reports that were initially put out to the press were saying that the prisoner had been attacked.

"Prison staff do not attack prisoners. We feel that the Ministry of Justice missed an opportunity to correct false reporting of events at Belmarsh."

'Last resort'

He said that, although restraint techniques were designed to minimise injuries to staff and prisoners, "sometimes there are unforeseen consequences in any violent incident".

Earlier, he had said: "We are absolutely confident, having spoken to our members, that they will have been found to have done absolutely nothing wrong at all.

"The fact that that prisoner has a certain amount of notoriety makes no difference to them, because they're professionals, and they deal with every prisoner in the same way, using control and restraint, which are officially accepted methods to be used within prison, when dealing with prisoners on occasion that need to be restrained."

According to Ministry of Justice guidelines for the prison service, "control and restraint techniques" must only be used as a "last resort after all other means of de-escalating (e.g. persuasion or negotiation) the incident, not involving the use of force, have been repeatedly tried and failed".

"Staff must continue to attempt to de-escalate the situation throughout the incident with the aim of releasing holds and locks," the guidelines continue. "The application of C&R holds may cause pain to a prisoner and if the prisoner is compliant, the holds must be relaxed."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We can confirm that an allegation of assault was passed to the Metropolitan Police Service on 17 July by Belmarsh Prison. An investigation has been started."

A prison service spokesman said five members of staff had been suspended "while the police investigation is ongoing".

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