Prison Officers' Association reveals 'credible intelligence' of foiled plot to highlight growing threat of serious attacks in prisonInmates at one of Britain's highest-security jails hatched a plot to behead a prison officer and post the killing on the internet, officials have revealed.
The Prison Officers' Association said it had received "credible intelligence" of a kidnap plot by a group of Muslim extremist inmates at Belmarsh prison in south-east London.
The plot was subsequently foiled, but officers warn that serious attacks on prison guards have hit an all-time high.
The association said that scores of its members have had to be moved to "safe houses" or temporary hotel accommodation after receiving threats from inmates, and that an increasing number of shivs – knife-like weapons – are being made inside jails.
Three prison guards in Frankland top-security prison in county Durham were recently stabbed with a shard of glass.Glyn Travis, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said: "The concern throughout the prison estate is that a member of staff is going to get killed."
Prison authorities compiled an action plan two years ago for dealing with a kidnap plot involving radicalised Muslim convicts.
The Belmarsh beheading plot was hatched three years ago; Travis said he had decided to reveal details now because of growing risks to his members.
Latest official figures show that a record 1,177 assaults resulted in serious injury in 2008.
According to the association, current projections indicate the level of assaults for last year is likely to eclipse that total by several hundred.
The association is pressing for a meeting with the new justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, to discuss a review on protective clothing and safety gear.