Prison riot ends after Tornado squad reestablish control at HMP The Mount

Staff 'lost' two wings to rioting inmates at the Category C prison in Hertforshire

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 31 July 2017 23:58 BST
The Mount Prison in Hertfordshire
The Mount Prison in Hertfordshire (Google Maps)

A prison riot that saw inmates take control of two wings has ended, the Ministry of Justice has said.

Disorder broke out at HMP The Mount in Hertfordshire on Monday and specially trained riot staff were sent in.

The trouble, said to have spanned two wings which house 227 inmates, erupted on the same day that a report warned the prison has struggled with "severe" staff shortages.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman later said the incident had been "resolved".

The Category C facility has been running on a "restricted regime" in recent weeks and is 47 staff short, prison affairs academic and blogger Alex Cavendish said.

He said inmates had been locked up for 24 hours a day in some cases, with food delivered cold to cell doors.

Mr Cavendish added that he had warned just days ago that the prison was "on the brink of a meltdown".

As the riot erupted, he said: "The technical term is that the staff have lost control of two wings. What 'lost control' means is that the prisoners are basically rioting, in layman's terms."

He said so-called Tornado squads, equipped to deal with riots, had been sent in.

An assessment from the jail's Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said that last summer "all the ingredients were in place for The Mount to suffer disorder such as has been experienced in other prisons - staff shortages, readily available drugs, mounting violence".

The report covering the 12 months to the end of February said that during the year The Mount has struggled with staff shortages "driven by uncompetitive pay scales".

It said: "Experienced staff have left and not been fully replaced, so that at the end of February there were 24 vacancies out of a complement of 136 officers, and a high proportion of officers and managers had less than two years' experience."

Despite the shortages the IMB said the establishment ended the year as a safe prison where prisoners have a good chance of rehabilitation, with the Governor and staff managing to control violence.

It said the drug problem at the jail was most acute in November when a number of prisoners suffered serious short-term health problems with 70 emergency call-outs in the month, mainly for drug related problems.

The substance known as Spice is a "big concern", the report said, adding that while drone deliveries have declined, "the supply is still getting in".


A man claiming to be a prisoner in another part of the complex contacted The Independent to say they were rioting because they "have not had a shower since Wednesday".

The unnamed prisoner, who said he was calling from his cell, said treatment of prisoners was "in breach of human rights".

"They been doing all sorts of things like banging up for three days or four days and not letting us out. They will let out like selected individuals," he said.

"We've been going three, four days with no shower, no exercise, no nothing."

He said if conditions were not so poor, there would be no rioting.

"You can't keep someone in their cell for days for no reason and not have them try to get out," he added.

The man said he had been in the prison since the start of year and that conditions had deteriorated during that time.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice told The Independent: “Specialist prison staff resolved an incident involving a number of prisoners at HMP The Mount on Monday evening. There were no injuries to staff or prisoners.

“The offenders responsible will be referred to the police and could spend longer behind bars.”

The matter has now been referred to the police.

Additional reporting by PA

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