A prison officer at HM Prison Dorchester who was injured after being charged by an inmate has received £47,500 compensation from the Ministry of Justice.

Keith Brown, 55, was put in an unsafe position when he was required to attend the cell of two known violent and disruptive inmates while working the night shift.

In breach of numerous prison procedures and without consulting Mr Brown, the night orderly officer opened the inmate’s cell door in the early hours of New Years Day, 2006. Mr Brown was charged by one of the inmates, and while trying to restrain him sustained a fracture to the base of his right thumb.

The tearing fracture did not heal fully, resulting in fibrous scar tissue developing which continues to limit Mr Brown’s use of his thumb. This has restricted his role as an officer in the prison service.

Thompsons Solicitors made a Personal Injury Claim

Following the incident Mr Brown contacted his union, the POA, which funded a personal injury claim with Thompsons Solicitors.

Thompsons argued that the Ministry of Justice, as the employer, was vicariously liable for the night orderly officer’s failure to comply with prison procedure and therefore for the injuries Mr Brown suffered as a result. The Ministry admitted liability and agreed to an out of court settlement.

Stuart Capstick from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Liability in this case was quickly established. However, the fight was far from over as we needed to build evidence to fully demonstrate the level of losses Keith suffered, and continues to suffer, through his inability to return to full duties and his reduced earning power if he found himself back on the open labour market. We’re pleased to have secured Keith a settlement that recognises the impact the injury has had on his lifestyle, work and future retirement plans.”

Thompsons provided excellent service and support

POA National Chairman Colin Moses added: ”The POA will continue to support its members in their fight for justice and to work in safe, secure environments. The MOJ, NOMS and heads of the Prison Service must recognise that prisons are all too often violent and dangerous places to work in. The constant drive to save money and reduce staff is a false economy as it will result in increasing numbers of Prison Service staff being injured or made ill as a result of their work.”

Keith Brown said: “I knew that I’d suffered both a physical and financial detriment in the workplace through no fault of my own and that taking the prison service on in litigation is a very daunting task, however Thompsons provided excellent service and support and kept me informed the whole way through.”

Mr Brown continues to work at HM Prison Dorchester.