Young offenders' escape plan thwarted by prison officers

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The Independent Online

A young offenders' institution is at the centre of a security alert after the discovery of plans for a mass escape attempt by its inmates.

A young offenders' institution is at the centre of a security alert after the discovery of plans for a mass escape attempt by its inmates.

The Prison Service confirmed yesterday that Aylesbury Young Offenders' Institution in Buckinghamshire has been "locked down" for the past four days, with no visitors other than staff allowed into the jail.

A massive search operation has been put into operation after the discovery of detailed maps, plans, sheets and other equipment believed to have been part of the escape plan. Crude weapons had also been found, fashioned by splicing toothbrushes and razor blades.

Many prisoners had to be confined to their cells and given only cold food while staff made an exhaustive fingertip search of every cell in the jail, which holds 230 inmates.

It is understood that 10 prisoners planned to take part in the breakout and that they may also have been anticipating assistance from outside the jail.

Reports that escapers planned to use some form of firearm are also being investigated, although staff have so far recovered only a child's water pistol, which was found in a bush outside the prison.

The inmates believed to be behind the planned escape have now been moved to other establishments, but Aylesbury is expected to remain closed to visitors for two more days.

Aylesbury is one of only two walled young offenders' institutions in England and Wales and houses some of the most dangerous young prisoners in the country.

The prison was built in 1847 originally as an adult jail intended to hold debtors, felons and women inmates.

The Prison Service director general, Martin Narey, praised the Aylesbury staff last night for their "vigilance and professionalism" in circumventing the escape.

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