Sex, drugs and hostages: a diary of disturbance

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The Independent Online
1 January 1997, Styal, Cheshire: A mob of 150 female prisoners burst out of their cell blocks for a mass snowball fight in the exercise yard. While staff look on, the prisoners sing in the New Year and return to their cells nearly two hours later.

7 January, The Verne, Dorset: Officers investigating noise and the smell of hooch are threatened by prisoners who light a bonfire in a prison wing, smash windows and wreck offices.

10 January, Portland, Dorset: A 9mm bullet is found in the drain from the shower room.

19 January, Albany, Isle of Wight: The fire brigade is called after a convicted robber gets his head stuck between the bars of his cell window. He is cut free after an hour.

20-21 January, Full Sutton, York: Riots squads are called in as 70 inmates take control of two wings and go on the rampage.

31 January, Kingston, Portsmouth: A convicted murderer stabs an officer with a pair of scissors.

9 February, Chelmsford, Essex: A convicted thief tells staff that he has swallowed a razor blade. He is sent to the prison health centre.

23 February, Whitemoor, Cambridgeshire: Michael Ledlie, a serial rapist known as the Southall Stalker who used his job as a window cleaner to carry out six attacks on women, attempts to take a female prison officer hostage. The officer struggles free. Ledlie later admits he had been planning the attack for months and had stockpiled food in his cell.

4 March, Sudbury, Derbyshire: Five minutes before midnight a car crashes through the prison gates. The driver, covered in blood from cuts to his arms and legs, asks to be locked up. His common law wife is later found dead at his home.

5 March, Bullingdon, Oxfordshire: Charles Bronson, described as Britain's most dangerous prisoner, asks to see a solicitor. He snatches the lawyer's fountain pen and holds it to his throat before taking him hostage. Bronson later gives himself up.

5 March, Bullingdon: Home-made crossbow is found beneath the pool table.

16 March, Lancaster: A wheelchair-bound woman visitor is found smuggling drugs including heroin and cannabis.

16 March, Bullwood Hall, Essex: A woman serving four years for blackmail attacks a nurse with a razor blade.

31 March, Holloway, London: Nine women stage a protest after being barred from the Easter Bonnet parade which they had planned to disrupt.

15 April, Brixton, London: Three men with Irish accents are challenged while monitoring prison van movements. Security cameras reveal other men filming the perimeter wall.

22 May, Stoke Heath, Shropshire: Gang warfare breaks out between prisoners from Manchester and Stoke. Four are treated for cuts.

23 May, Holloway: Police bomb disposal squad called to deal with package from Ireland. Found to contain homeopathic medicine intended to help terrorist suspect Roisin McAliskey in childbirth.