250 prisoners moved as riots spread

Click to follow
The Independent Online

More than 250 prisoners have been moved to other jails after three consecutive nights of rioting, the Prison Service said today.

The disturbances spread to an adult unit at Moorland prison after two nights of riots at the young offenders institution on the same site near Doncaster, South Yorkshire.



Prison Service chief executive Michael Spurr said additional staff were being sent to the prison "to ensure stability" as a high-level review was under way.



One prisoner was taken to hospital after being seriously injured during almost seven hours of trouble last night.



Up to 100 adult prisoners started throwing objects and causing damage on the wing at about 6.30pm.



Officers in riot gear, known as Tornado response teams, were called in and all prisoners had surrendered shortly before 1.30pm, the Prison Service said.



Mr Spurr added: "We are now conducting a high-level investigation into these events. Staff have done a magnificent job over the past 72 hours. We have deployed additional staff today to Moorland to ensure stability at the prison.



"We have a good record of maintaining order and security in our prisons and are therefore taking these incidents extremely seriously in order to learn lessons."



A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "A third incident of indiscipline occurred last night at Moorland prison, on the male adult category C side.



"It began at 6.30pm on Houseblock One when prisoners started throwing objects and causing damage on the wing.



"Prison Service Tornado teams arrived at the prison and intervened at 1am. By 1.25am all prisoners had surrendered and 166 are now being removed to other establishments in the area.



"One prisoner was reported to be suffering from serious injuries at 9pm and was taken by ambulance to outside hospital. The houseblock has been damaged, although damage to individual cells is not considered serious."



A total of 166 prisoners were being transferred from Moorland to other prisons across the country, in addition to the 86 who were moved yesterday after Wednesday night's riot.



Glyn Travis, a spokesman for the Prison Officers Association (POA), said that all the prisoners in Moorland's adult wing, up to 100 inmates, were involved in the riot.



He confirmed that no prison staff were injured, but said extensive damage was caused.



"Apparently the juveniles and young offenders were locked up and the adults were allowed to come out, and when they refused to go back to their cells it all kicked off," he said.



"It's being brought under control by prison staff at present but the situation is still very volatile, and we have no idea how long it will take to get under control.



"It is an extremely dangerous situation for staff and prisoners alike."



Yorkshire Ambulance Service confirmed that three ambulances were called to the scene at 7.15pm after an emergency call about prisoners fighting.



Wednesday night's riot at the young offenders unit started when around 55 prisoners refused to return to their cells at 6.30pm. They surrendered more than eight hours later after officers in riot gear were called in. One inmate was taken to hospital with head injuries but no prison officers were injured.



On Tuesday night, three members of staff at the prison were assaulted and a female officer sustained a fractured jaw when more than 40 young offenders refused to return to their cells after a fight broke out at 7pm.



The POA said a number of suspected ringleaders were segregated after the first night's riot.



Tom Robson, acting national chairman of the POA, said the violence on Tuesday night was caused by "street corner gangs gathering inside our prisons".



"They continue in the only way they know, which is in a violent and anti-social manner that our members confront and manage on a daily basis," he said.



"The POA deplore this mindless violence and protection of staff and prisoners is paramount."



A further 48 prisoners were transferred from Warren Hill Young Offenders Institution in Woodbridge, Suffolk, on Wednesday following separate riots after around 60 offenders aged between 15 and 18 refused to return to their cells on Tuesday night.



Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, welcomed the review.



"No one wins from a prison riot," she said.



"Disturbances in a jail are dangerous and damaging for prisoners and staff, distressing for families outside and costly to repair.



"The Prison Service is our least visible, most neglected public service but it has gained worldwide respect for the safety and security of its establishments.



"A thorough-going transparent investigation is vital to determine what went wrong and how to put things right."



The last inspection of Moorland, carried out in October 2008, found that "neither the physical environment nor staff-prisoner relationships were sufficiently good".



The then chief inspector of prisons, Dame Anne Owers, said: "Much of the closed site was shabby and dirty. Relationships between prisoners and staff were distant and distrustful, personal officer work was virtually non-existent, and there was over-reliance on formal applications and complaints.



"Offender management was not sufficiently proactive, and there was a shortage of offending behaviour programmes.



"Resettlement pathways, on the closed site, were under-developed and under-resourced, though substance misuse services had improved."



She added: "The nature of the site and the mixture of the population will continue to present a challenge."