Two prison officers were attacked after an inmate was refused a second helping of dinner, it was revealed last night.
Police are investigating after the guards — a man and a woman — were taken to hospital.
Just 48 hours earlier an official report had warned that Government budget cuts could endanger the safety of warders – and prisoners – at the jail.
In the attack at Pentonville Prison, North London, the male officer was repeatedly punched in the face by an inmate who allegedly went berserk after being told he could not have seconds.
When the female officer came to help, she was slammed against a wall “with considerable force” by a second prisoner.
Both officers were taken to hospital with cuts and bruises after the attack on Thursday.
Scotland Yard was last night investigating the double assault and two inmates have been placed in solitary confinement.
The Prison Officers Association’s national secretary Steve Gillan said: “We put the rise in attacks like this down to the Government cuts which are now taking place and putting officers in peril because of dangerous staffing levels inside prisons.
“We do need to highlight that violent attacks are on the increase within our prisons. We want to see individuals prosecuted.” Mr Gillan has demanded minimum jail terms for inmates who attack staff after a study reported that 3,000 warders were beaten up every year.
He said the POA is concerned that jail closures, budget cuts and redundancies could lead to yet more violence within prisons.
The Prison Service said: “Two members of staff from HMP Pentonville were treated in hospital following an incident involving two prisoners on August 15. This incident has now been referred to the police. Pentonville has a zero tolerance to violence. Any prisoners en-gaging in violent behaviours will be stri*ped of their privileges and are subject to disciplinary action.”
The report by the independent monitoring board at the jail warned that conditions in Pentonville, which opened in 1842, remain deeply unsatisfactory.
It said the cuts threaten the “maintenance of a regime con-ducive to decency” and stated: “The physical environment of this prison is a reproach to 21st century Britain.”
The report also found that hundreds of thousands of pounds are being squandered due to delays in cases of foreign criminals fac-ing extradition. It said numbers remanded at the jail for longer than necessary over deportation delays have doubled in the last year.
Numbers of foreign criminals have also soared 14 per cent over the past two years and now total more than 400 of Pentonville Prison’s inmate population of about 1,200.
Romanians are the largest such group, accounting for 12.5 per cent.