PRISONERS knocked a female officer unconscious in a “riot”.

Guards at Lewes Prison said the incident, which happened last Tuesday, was sparked when a drug deal went wrong.

One officer said someone had tried to smuggle in a drug parcel for inmates but it had got caught in a prison fence.

According to our officer, around 65 prisoners faced off against 25 guards.

She said it is a constant struggle to control the convicts due to a severe lack of staff.

The officer, who asked to remain anonymous due to concerns for her job safety, said: “A dog handler was beaten up.

“She was knocked out and stamped on, and the inmates kicked and punched her in the body while she was unconscious.”

The guard claimed the incident, which she described as a “riot”, is the latest in a string of incidents at the prison. The guard added that it is the third time in six weeks the dog handler had been attacked by prisoners.

The guard alleged that in the first attack, the handler’s ribs were broken and she suffered facial injuries.

The attack happened at about 11am. Another guard, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was the “worst thing” to happen at the prison during their time there.

They added: “It was a mini riot. A parcel of drugs came over and got lost in the netting, and the inmates just kicked off.

“They battered the dog handler.”

The guard put the problems down to a lack of officers, and said it is too hard to control the prisoners when they are so heavily outnumbered by the amount of prisoners.

The source added that officers do not stay in the job for long periods of time.

“It is down to staff shortages. The retention [of officers] is ridiculous. Staff at Lewes are being assaulted all the time.”

The Prison Service told The Argus there had been a further incident at HMP Lewes on Tuesday, but would not confirm the number of prisoners involved in either of the incidents.

A spokeswoman would only say the incidents involved a small number of prisoners.

Last October, furniture was thrown around in a six-hour rampage as the prison was placed on lockdown.

Six inmates were charged with prison mutiny for the brawl, and they are due to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Staff successfully resolved two separate incidents that occurred at HMP Lewes on October 10, both involving a very small number of prisoners. Violence against our hardworking staff will never be tolerated.

“When incidents like this occur we will always work closely with the police to push for the strongest possible punishment. Investigations are now underway and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”