Prison officers hospitalised in ‘mass poisoning’ after curry spiked with spice

Prison officers hospitalised in ‘mass poisoning’ after curry spiked with spice

Several prison officers were rushed to hospital after inmates allegedly ‘spiked’ their curry with the drug spice (Picture: Google Maps)

A ‘mass poisoning’ put prison guards in hospital after inmates allegedly added the wrong type of ‘spice’ to a ‘staff special curry’.

Prisoners working in the staff canteen of the high-security HMP Swaleside, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, have been blamed for the incident, affecting up to 25 employees.

The curry is suspected to have been ‘spiked’ with a drug called spice, the common name for a synthetic cannabinoid and New Psychoactive Substance (NPS).

A psychoactive drug, it causes a cannabis-like high and can cause mood swings, anxiety, paranoia, tremors, seizures and fits.

Prisoners are required to complete an employment risk assessment before they’re allowed to prepare and serve food to staff.

A spokesperson for the Criminal Justice Workers Union (CJWU) said: ‘Although it is not unusual for prisoners to be working staff canteens, they are expected to be a low risk, which clearly hasn’t happened in this case.’

The ‘zombie drug’ known as spice is known for leaving users doubled over and catatonic (Picture: Boris Roessler/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)

Drugs were found to be in ready supply at the prison, where levels of violence are high, according to the last inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons.

More than 40% are serving sentences longer than 10 years. Roughly as many are serving indeterminate jail terms, mostly life sentences.

An entire unit is allocated to men convicted of sexual offences.

The ‘mass poisoning event’ led to an emergency medical incident unit being set up at the jail, which houses roughly 1,100 inmates.

Andy Hamlin, an official for the CJWU, said: ‘Prisoners preparing food in the staff canteen spiked a “staff special curry” with what is believed to be an NPS.

’25 staff were affected and were witnessed under the influence of NPS.

‘Among those affected, there were symptoms including breathing difficulties and raised heart rates.’

Nine ambulances arrived at the scene on Thursday last week. As many as five prison officers were taken to hospital.

They are not believed to be in critical condition and they have since been discharged.

The CJWU has demanded the prison service investigate the incident.

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It said the prison service and ‘local senior management team at HMP Swaleside must do more to protect the health and safety of its staff’.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said it is liaising with relevant agencies.

They said: ‘A number of staff were taken ill following an incident at HMP Swaleside last week and those who attended the hospital were soon discharged.

‘There is an ongoing investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.’

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