Female prison custody officer dies after assault

Lorraine Barwell, who died after the assault
Lorraine Barwell, who died after the assault

A woman prison custody officer who was allegedly assaulted as she escorted a prisoner at a crown court in England has died.

Lorraine Barwell, 54, who worked for Serco, was attacked as she escorted a prisoner between London's Blackfriars Crown Court and a waiting van parked in the courtyard on Monday.

An air ambulance was called and she was treated at the scene before being taken to an east London hospital, but Scotland Yard said today she has died.

Humphrey Burke, 22, of no fixed abode, appeared at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court on Wednesday and was remanded to appear at the Old Bailey on July 15.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove said: "I was shocked to hear of the tragic death of Lorraine Barwell. No words can express the devastating effect this will have on her family and friends and my deepest sympathies are with them at this difficult time.

"Lorraine Barwell was a courageous and dedicated prisoner custody officer who delivered a vital public service for more than a decade. She, like thousands of prison officers across the country, worked hard in challenging circumstances to keep the public safe.

"My department will provide every assistance to the police as they investigate this incident."

The POA, the Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, added that the thoughts of all its members are with the family, friends and colleagues of Ms Barwell.

It said: "Although not a member of the POA, this unspeakable crime should serve to remind the public and politicians of the violent and unpredictable nature of the criminal justice workplace.

"This is not about public good, private bad, or vice versa, but a stark illustration that staff within the criminal justice system care for and control violent criminals 24 hours a day every day of the year in the essential protection of the public."