Amid allegations that a guard at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre was assaulted over the weekend, concerns are growing that overcrowding is causing potentially dangerous situations at the facility.

Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek says “Any number of violent occurrences in the past year should have been a wakeup call…inaction is putting guards’ safety in jeopardy and lives at risk.”

Reports say a correctional officer was injured by an inmate during an incident on Saturday, resulting in the guard suffering head wounds and needing treatment in hospital. He has since been released.

Critics say this kind of incident could have been prevented.

But segregation cells at EMDC are regularly full, so dangerous and violent inmates who should be isolated from others and handled with extra care are being housed with the general prison population

That appears to be what happened on Saturday.

Loujack Nougues Café was apparently transferred to EMDC from Hamilton because he was a “trouble” inmate. He is facing several charges of first degree murder and attempted murder in connection with attacks in that city.

After spending some time in segregation at EMDC, he was moved to the general population because of overcrowding.

So instead of dealing with him one-on-one, he would have been part of a group of 30 inmates handled by one guard.

On Saturday, he allegedly approached a guard from behind, striking and pushing him into an open meal hatch. EMDC nurses originally believed the guard had been stabbed because of the cuts to his head from the jagged metal hatch door.

The hatches have been a problem at the facility for decades, despite a promise from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to replace them.

The hatches can be propped open by inmates, allowing them to stab unsuspecting inmates and guard walking by, and pose a hazard to anyone who trips or is pushed and falls into one.

They are supposed to be replaced by July 2013, but no work has begun.

Yurek says “The guards have their backs up against the wall and things continue to devolve.”

In 2012, about 10 per cent of the guards at EMDC were assaulted, making it one of the most dangerous facilities for staff.

And over the past few months there have been numerous inmate-on-inmate attacks, a sexual assault investigation, a fire and regular lockdowns.

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Madeleine Meilleur says changes are coming.