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Riot breaks out at British prison over lockdowns ‘caused by staff shortages’

world Updated: Nov 07, 2016 11:57 IST
AFP
AFP
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Up to 200 inmates were involved in a riot that broke out at a British prison.(Shutterstock)

British authorities on Sunday put an end to a prison riot involving up to 200 inmates, which broke out just days after a warders’ association warned of a “bloodbath” in the UK’s detention facilities.

Police, ambulance and fire services were called to the prison in Bedford, central England, shortly before 5:00pm (1700 GMT) after the disturbance broke out.

More than six hours later a Prison Service spokesperson said the incident had been “successfully resolved” by prison officers and the emergency services.

“An investigation into this incident will take place. We are absolutely clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars,” the spokesperson said.

During the unrest the Prison Officers Association’s (POA) general secretary, Steve Gillan, estimated up to 200 prisoners were involved.

“Prison officers on the landings have withdrawn to a safe place, so prisoners are out in large numbers,” he said before the situation had been brought under control.

Two inmates suffered non-serious injuries while officers were unhurt, a justice ministry spokesman told AFP.

The incident came just days after the head of the POA, Mike Rolfe, warned of the deteriorating situation in Britain’s prisons.

“It’s a bloodbath in prisons at this minute in time. Staff are absolutely on their knees, lost all morale, all motivation,” he told BBC Radio Four.

“Low staffing numbers, people leaving the job in droves, it’s a real bad mix, and it’s dangerous for everyone, staff and prisoners alike.”

Last month a 21-year-old inmate was stabbed to death at London’s Pentonville prison.

On October 29 a national response unit was brought in to control prisoners at East Sussex prison, south-east England, in a standoff which last six hours.

On Friday the justice ministry announced the creation of 2,500 new jobs as part of its broader prison reform.

The government also promised annual investment of more than £100 million ($125 million, 112 million euros) and greater efforts to tackle drugs in prisons.

The worsening situation at Bedford prison, which currently holds around 500 inmates, was documented in a September report by watchdog HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

The report found the number of inmates saying it was easy or very easy to get drugs had almost doubled since February 2014. It also documented shortages of clothing, cramped conditions, and weak arrangements for managing violent and bullying behaviour.