Police launch inquiry into 'brutal and racist' prison

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Police are investigating allegations of brutality and racial abuse of inmates by prison officers at a maximum-security prison.

Cambridgeshire Police said yesterday that a team had been set up to look into a number of complaints made by inmates at Whitemoor Prison and that its investigation was in the "early stages". According to a report in The Guardian today one inmate suffered a serious injury to the head after he was struck by an officer wielding a riot shield, dragged into a cell and then stripped naked.

It was also alleged that some prison staff regularly used a range of racial abuse including "black bastard", "nigger", "monkey" and "Paki". Muslim prisoners alleged that they were denied access to prayer facilities.

Several firms of solicitors are pursuing complaints on behalf of prisoners and one with close knowledge of the investigation said that a "hard core of rogue officers" was responsible for the attacks.

HMP Whitemoor, near March in Cambridgeshire, specialises in managing and treating prisoners with dangerous and severe personality disorders.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said that Operation Pond was headed by a detective chief inspector and that no arrests had been made.