Riot team fights to contain prison unrest

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The Independent Online
Prison riot squads were last night fighting to contain serious unrest in one of Britain's toughest jails.

Inmates at Full Sutton high security jail, near York, started the disturbance shortly after 6pm when they were being unlocked from their cells. Prisoners in two wings began breaking up furniture and committing other acts of vandalism as staff struggled to retain control.

Squads of prison officers in riot equipment - known as control and restraint teams - had still not managed to quell the unrest seven hours after it began. Full Sutton contains some of the most volatile and dangerous prisoners in the country.

The Prison Service put into effect its Operation Tornado programme for dealing with serious unrest. Reinforcements were sent to the jail from other prisons in Yorkshire and the North-east but the Prison Service said last night that there was, so far, no risk to the public. A spokes-man said: "We can confirm an on-going incident at Full Sutton Prison. Staff are working hard to bring the incident to an early conclusion. The parameter of the prison is secure and there is no risk to the local community."

With the prison population standing at a record 60,000 and rapidly rising, staff have long been warning of the danger of a major disturbance. Last night John Boddington, chairman of the Prison Officers' Association said: "We have been warning the director-general and the Home Secretary at a number of meetings of the high risk strategy they are embarking upon in attempting to deliver 13.3 per cent cuts over three years in the staff levels when the prison population is so high."