Hard-pressed staff at HMP Grampian are being assaulted on an almost weekly basis, new figures have revealed.
Information released by the Scottish Prison Service has shown that employees at the Peterhead super jail were attacked 49 times between April 2018 and April this year.
Of those incidents, two resulted in serious injuries, eighteen involved minor injuries, and four ended with staff being taken to hospital for treatment.
There were 29 “non-injury” assaults reported during the period in question.
Earlier this month, a 132-page report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland raised “major concerns” about staff shortages at the institution, and found “almost all areas were negatively impacted by staffing shortages”.
Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary, last night voiced concerns that the staffing crisis meant it was “more likely” that workers would be assaulted.
Mr Kerr said: “Our brave prison staff at HMP Grampian do a terrific job in what is clearly a dangerous environment.
“However, they are under huge pressure due to staffing issues, which have left the jail short of about 40 to 50 officers.
“These incidents are totally unacceptable, but sadly the shortage of workers means attacks are more likely to happen.
“No one should go to work and expect to be subjected to violence. And if that routinely happens, it becomes more difficult for the Scottish Prison Service to retain staff.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Prison Service said: “Given the nature of their work, prison staff can work with dangerous and difficult individuals, and on occasion assaults on staff unfortunately do occur.
“However, one assault is one too many and it is our policy that all assaults on staff are reported to the appropriate authorities.
“The Scottish Prison Service provides a range of support measures and interventions to staff who have been assaulted during the course of their duties.”
She added: “We recognise the continuing challenges of the recruitment and retention at Grampian.
“We have adapted our recruitment process to include online testing and application, and we hosted an open day at the prison in June.”
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The figures related to all prison staff, including cleaners, prison officers and support workers.
There was one serious assault at HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow during that same spell, along with 36 minor and 30 non-injury assaults. Staff were taken to hospital six times.
And at the Polmont Young Offenders Institute, there was one serious assault, 14 minor and 25 non-injury. Three employees had to be taken to hospital.