Inmates hold officer hostage at Scottish jail

A PRISON officer was being held hostage last night by inmates at Shotts prison in central Scotland. The Scottish Office said a specially trained negotiating team had made contact with the prisoners and understood that the officer was unhurt.

The officer was taken hostage yesterday afternoon on the ground floor of A-hall by at least five inmates. The jail is Scotland's newest and holds a total of 408 inmates. It is understood that prisoners not involved in the incident were under lock and key.

A Scottish Office spokesman said no demands from the hostage-takers had been received, nor was there any particular reason given for the capture of the prison officer. There was no confirmation last night whether any of the prisoners were armed.

The incident is the latest to hit the prison which is supposed to be the most well designed of all Scottish jails. Opened in 1987, it been the scene of a number of hostage takings and unrest. In September 1988, 50 inmates smashed up part of the building causing pounds 50,000 worth of damage. In 1990, an officer was taken hostage and last year several officers were injured when prisoners hurled missiles and stones at them.

The Scottish Office said 'normal operational measures' were being taken to bring the incident to a peaceful conclusion.

An inquiry was launched yesterday into a disturbance at Lindholme prison near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in which inmates threatened to electrocute prison officers to keep them at bay. About a dozen prisoners barricaded themselves into a dormitory at the prison and began to smash up furniture.

Peter Leonard, the governor, said that they damaged electrical fittings and cables and wired them to the barricades in order to prevent staff gaining access.

A specialist team of control and restraint officers stormed the dormitory at about 4am and the prisoners gave up their protest. No one was injured during the confrontation.