Labour calls for inquiry after prison sex attack

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POLICE are investigating an alleged sexual attack by a convicted rapist on a woman officer at Frankland top security jail, Durham. The incident comes a month after another woman was raped by an inmate convicted of rape at Long Lartin high security prison in Hereford and Worcester.

Yesterday in the Commons, Labour called for an inquiry after prison unions claimed staff shortages left officers vulnerable to attack. Tony Newton, Leader of the House, promised to raise the issue with the Home Secretary.

The officer at Frankland was said to have suffered bruises to her face and a cut lip after she was grabbed from behind by an inmate she was escorting from his cell to a workshop at the prison.

The prison said the attack, which lasted seconds, ended when the officer's screams brought colleagues to her rescue. 'Although not seriously hurt she was shaken and has been advised to see her own GP and to take a few days off to recover.'

It said the woman, who is in her twenties, had been put in touch with a prison counselling team 'to help her get over the trauma of the experience'. The Home Office confirmed an inmate had been moved to Durham jail following the incident and that officials were carrying out an inquiry.

Although assaults on staff in the country's 130 prisons are relatively common, serious sexual attacks on women have been rare. But an internal inquiry was launched last month after a woman was raped in a communal area of Long Lartin prison.