Second night of rioting at young offenders unit

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The Independent Online

More than 50 inmates at a young offenders unit were involved in a second night of rioting last night, the Prison Service said today.

Around 55 prisoners at Moorlands Young Offenders Institute near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, refused to return to their cells at 6.30pm. They surrendered more than eight hours later after officers in riot gear were called in.

It is the second incident in two nights at the prison.

One inmate was taken to hospital with head injuries but no prison officers were injured, a Prison Service spokeswoman said.

A total of 86 inmates are being transferred to other prisons across the country as a result of the damage caused to the buildings.

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

Last night, prison officers in riot gear, known as Tornado response teams, were on scene, the Prison Service spokeswoman said.

She said: "There was a second incident of concerted indiscipline at Moorland prison last night.

"At 6.30pm around 55 prisoners on C Spur refused to return to their cells.

"Prison Service Tornado teams were on scene but the prisoners voluntarily surrendered with no intervention at 2.10am.

"Due to the damage on C Spur and resultant water damage to A Spur, 86 prisoners are being transferred to other prisons around the estate.

"No officers were hurt during the incident but one prisoner is receiving treatment in outside hospital for head injuries."

She went on: "Prisons are secure and ordered environments housing a complex and challenging population.

"Incidents are dealt with professionally and efficiently by trained Prison Service staff.

"We will always press for the most serious charges to be laid against those who commit acts of violence in our prisons."

The first incident on Tuesday night ended when Tornado response teams were called in at about 1am.

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) said a number of suspected ringleaders were segregated following the first riot.

Tom Robson, acting national chairman of the POA, said "street corner gangs re-associate 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.

It happened at the same time as about 60 offenders aged between 15 and 18 refused to return to their cells at Warren Hill, in Woodbridge, Suffolk, at about 7.30pm on Tuesday.

Tornado response teams restored order shortly before 6am yesterday,

Two staff were injured and three juveniles were treated for minor injuries.

A total of 48 inmates needed to be transferred to other prisons after about 100 prison places were lost as a result of the damage, a POA spokesman said.

The riot was prompted when a number of inmates were prevented from having free and unfettered access to the telephone and leisure facilities following incidents of alleged bullying of other juveniles, the POA said.

Last night's riot was prompted when prison officers tried to stop inmates attacking another juvenile, the POA said.

General secretary Steve Gillan said: "But for the prompt action of professional prison officers these incidents could have been much worse.

"It has been brought to my attention that a prisoner had received a severe beating from other prisoners and it was the bravery of staff in pulling the prisoner to safety that potentially saved his life."

He added: "Acts of violence and concerted indiscipline are at high levels and cuts to frontline staff will endanger not only prisoner and staff safety, but place our prisons in jeopardy.

"I call on the Government to have a rethink on these cuts before it takes ultimately the life of a prison officer or those in our care."

Acting national chairman Tom Robson added: "The POA deplore this mindless violence and protection of staff and prisoners is paramount."

There were 2,500 assaults on prison officers each year between 2004 and 2009, he said.