A prison officer was hospitalised after being attacked by three inmates.

The male officer, in his early 30s, was jumped by three inmates at Lewes Prison on Wednesday morning.

Sources at the prison said the officer was with a female colleague when three inmates were told they were about to be searched after acting suspiciously.

The inmates attacked the male officer, who has been working at the prison for about six years, while the female officer ran for help.

The victim was taken to Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, for treatment to facial injuries.

A source at the prison said: “He is a really nice guy and will be absolutely gutted by what has happened.

“He and another officer saw a group of guys acting suspiciously and asked to search them. They then went for him. It’s such a shame.”

The attack comes after The Argus revealed how serving officers and inmates were concerned that staff shortages at the prison were sparking increased levels of violence.

Last week, an inmate said prisoners were spending longer in their cells because there wasn’t enough staff to cater for them all – fuelling inmate frustration and violent behaviour.

In recent weeks, Lewes Prison governor Nigel Foote announced his resignation amid the allegations and Lewes MP Norman Baker told The Argus he had written to the Prisons Minister for answers.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Prison staff do an excellent job and their safety and security is of paramount importance. Anyone who is violent towards them – or anyone else in prison – can expect to face severe consequences.

“We have referred this incident to the police and are helping them with their enquiries. We always press for the most serious charges to be laid against anyone violent in prison.”

Since 2000, 264 separate incidents of assaults on staff have been recorded in Lewes Prison – averaging more than one-and-a-half a month.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: “At 9.45am on Wednesday, police were informed that a prison officer had been assaulted by a prisoner at HMP Lewes. Detectives are working with the prison management to investigate the circumstances.”