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Norwich prison inmate sets fire to cell as more than 60 staff protest over health and safety concerns

PUBLISHED: 15:33 15 November 2016 | UPDATED: 08:09 16 November 2016

Prison officers protesting outside Norwich prison.

Prison officers protesting outside Norwich prison.

Archant

An inmate at Norwich prison has set fire to his cell as more than 60 staff protest over health and safety concerns.

Four fire engines were called to the facility, on Knox Road, shortly after 1pm following an incident in the segregation unit.

It comes as the jail, which holds more than 750 inmates, is said to be operating on a “skeleton crew” of just 10 officers today.

Many staff have stopped working after the Prison Officers Association (POA) directed members in England and Wales to protest.

The organisation claims officers are being forced to work in an “unlawful” situation because of a lack of health and safety in jails.

Steve Searby, POA chairman for Norwich Prison, said there were incidents occurring every other day against members of staff.

“Just last week a prisoner assaulted an officer, fracturing his eye socket.” Mr Searby said. “He is now off work.”

He added that while conditions were far from ideal at Norwich, officers have it “better” than a lot of other jails.

In recent weeks there has been a string of high profile incidents at prisons, including an alleged murder, a riot and two inmates escaping.

He added that the cell fire could not be directly linked to the protest, as staff regularly have to deal with such incidents.

A fire service spokesman said it had been a “very minor fire” and was extinguished.

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