A WILTSHIRE prisoner is so scared of his tormentor bullies he has given up work, his mother said.

The East Dorset woman, who spoke out on condition of anonymity, said that a gang of inmates at Erlestoke Prison had threatened to stab her 30-year-old son.

She alleged that bullying at the prison was rife – adding that during a recent visit had been told to “tie a knot in it” by a guard when he asked to visit the toilet.

The Wiltshire prison has attracted a raft of criticisms over the past year.

In November, an official inspection report linked the widespread use of banned “legal high” drug Spice to “much of the violence and bullying” at Erlestoke. Government inspectors said that the number of reported violent incidents had tripled since the previous inspection in 2013.

The male prisoner, whose family did not want identified, had been admitted to Erlestoke early last year as part of a sentence for armed robbery. Before arriving at Erlestoke he was incarcerated at HMP Portland.

The prisoner’s 56-year-old mother said he had been threatened by another group of prisoners. The cause of the dispute was not clear.

“One of the chaps told him he was going to knife him,” she said.

The threats had led to the prisoner giving up his job in the prison gardens.

His mother said: “He loved that job. But he’s too frightened to go out.

“It’s horrible. You’re thinking about if something’s going to happen to him. If he carries on with his work one of them could really hurt him. He’s going to shut himself in his cell because he’s frightened.

“When you hear about it, there’s nothing you can do.”

The prisoner’s mother added that a visit in November had to be cut short – after prison officers refused to let her son visit the toilet.

She said: “My son wanted to go to the toilet. We went up to the prison officer. They said, ‘No, he can’t until after the visit’.”

The East Dorset woman said she approached a female prison officer, who told her, “Well, he’ll just have to tie a knot in it [his penis].”

Her friend, who was present at the visit, added: “They [Erlestoke] need to stop the bullying. The bullying is the worst. That’s what drives prisoners to suicide.”

It is understood that the prisoner is no longer at Erlestoke.

Responding to his mother’s accusations, a spokeswoman for the Prison Service said: “The safety and welfare of people in our custody is our top priority and any reports of bullying are taken very seriously.

“HMP Erlestoke has already taken a number of steps to improve safety over the last few months, including the recruitment of additional staff, which has increased the safeguarding support available for prisoners.”

The Wiltshire prison does not have toilet facilities suitable for prisoners in the visit area. Prison staff would have been made aware of any medical conditions that required prisoners to have access to a toilet, a spokeswoman said.