Monday, January 3, 2011

Prison rioters ‘must be punished’

Inmates carry their possessions and walk from burning buildings during a riot at Ford open Prison, near Arundel, on 1 January 2011About 40 of the 496 prisoners were involved in the riot
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A "high-level" investigation has been launched into a riot at an open prison in West Sussex.

A number of buildings were burned to the ground at Ford prison, near Arundel, during the violence which broke out at midnight on 1 January.

The Prison Officers' Association said the incident started after staff tried to breathalyse some prisoners.

Prisons minister Crispin Blunt said the formal inquiry would be led by the regional custody manager for Wales.
Prison officials said the disturbance was "successfully resolved" by specially trained staff by 2200 GMT.
Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said: "Although damage has been sustained to the prison, there has only been a minimal loss of accommodation.

"These types of incidents in open prisons are rare and it is to the credit of all the staff involved that no staff or prisoners sustained significant injuries during the incident."

He said staffing levels at the time were "appropriate and usual" and a "high-level investigation" had been launched.

Mark Freeman from the Prison Officers' Association said there had only been two prison officers and four support staff on duty at the time to manage a population of 496 inmates.

"In our view they do not have enough staff. The general policy is that prisons in an open state have less staff but we feel they should have more because they have more access to illegal activities," he said.

HMP Ford557 capacityCategory D male prisonFocuses on resettlementFormer Fleet Air Arm stationConverted 1960Mixture of huts and landings
He said those responsible for the trouble had worn balaclavas to conceal their identities.
Alcohol had been a concern at the jail for some time, he said, with dozens of empty bottles found in recent days.

Mr Freeman said: "In the early hours, staff tried to breathalyse a number of prisoners because they suspected they had been drinking.

"When the prisoners refused to be breathalysed they became violent along with other prisoners and went on what we call a mutiny."

Mark Freeman, Prison Officers Association
Mark Freeman, Prison Officers' Association: "Wardens were chasing prisoners, trying to get breath tests"
Six prisoners had been identified as the ringleaders, he added, and three were being transferred, while the other three were "hiding" among the other prisoners.
About 40 inmates were involved in the riot, and the fires destroyed six accommodation blocks, a mail room, a gym, a snooker room, and a pool room.
Mr Blunt said 150 prisoners had been moved to closed conditions, either because they were involved in the disturbances or because of damage to their accommodation.

HMP Ford accepts category D offenders who have under two years left to serve on their sentences.

The Prison Service website says the institution does not house criminals who have been convicted of arson, some sexual offences, or "restraining" offences.

The facility is split into two sites divided by a main road. One of the sides is mainly residential, while the other generally consists of work spaces.

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