Mass poisoning at Kent prison as 'staff curry spiked with drug by inmates'

Three people were taken to hospital following the incident at HMP Swaleside (Google maps)
Three people were taken to hospital following the incident at HMP Swaleside (Google maps)

Twenty-five prison officers reportedly fell ill after a staff meal was “spiked” by inmates.

Prisoners at HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent are suspected to have laced a curry intended for staff with a drug, a union claims.

South East Coast Ambulance Service paramedics were sent to the scene around 2.10pm last Thursday.

Andy Hamlin, an official for the Criminal Justice Workers Union (CJWU), described the incident as a “mass poisoning of staff”.“Prisoners preparing food in the staff canteen spiked a ‘staff special curry’ with what is believed to be a new psychoactive substance (NPS),” he told The Sun.

“Twenty-five staff were affected and were witnessed under the influence of NPS.

"Among those affected there were symptoms including breathing difficulties and raised heart rates.

“South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) sent nine ambulances to attend the incident with a makeshift incident unit set up within the establishment.”

Secamb confirmed “a number” of patients were treated at the scene, and three were taken to hospital by ambulance for further checks.

Kent Police confirmed it also assisted at the scene.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “A number of staff were taken ill following an incident at HMP Swaleside last week but have all now returned to work.

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

The Sun reports Spice - a type of NPS - is suspected to have been used, but this has not been confirmed.

Spice is a nickname for substances containing one or more synthetic cannabinoids.

The lab-made drugs were originally designed to mimic the effects of cannabis, but are more harmful and unpredicatable than cannabis.

Spice can carry a range of effects and health risks, including chest pain, breathing difficulties, the inability to move, seizures, vomiting, paranoia and extreme anxiety.

HMP Swaleside is home to around 1,100 prisoners.

A CJWU spokesperson told the Sun the union is demanding His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service carries out a full investigation into the incident.

“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,” a spokesperson told the news outlet.

“The CJWUnion demand HMPPS carry out a full investigation into this incident.

"HMPPS and local senior management team at HMP Swaleside must do more to protect the health and safety of its staff.”

The CJWU have been approached by the Standard.