Jail staff injured in disturbance at Swaleside Prison

7 January 2011

The Prison Service said the incident involving eight inmates had been quickly dealt with by staff

An investigation is under way after several staff members were injured during a disturbance at a jail in Kent.

Eight inmates were involved in the incident at Swaleside Prison on the Isle of Sheppey on Thursday night, the Prison Service said.

The Prison Officers Association (POA) said the jail was under-resourced and only staff bravery had stopped a riot, as seen at Ford Open Prison in Sussex.

But the Prison Service said the two situations were not comparable.

POA chairman Colin Moses said: “It is through the bravery of staff at HMP Swaleside that another incident on the scale of the HMP Ford and HMP Moorland riots were averted.”

Buildings were burned to the ground in a riot by about 40 inmates at HMP Ford on New Year’s Day, and officers dealt with three nights of rioting in November at HMP Moorland in South Yorkshire.

Mr Moses said 10 prison staff were injured at HMP Swaleside after being attacked by up to a dozen inmates after officers challenged a prisoner who they believed had a mobile phone.

He said 126 prisoners at the Category B jail had been unlocked and on evening association at the time, and some of them had joined in the disturbance.

“This again highlights the level of violence faced by our members on a daily basis in our dangerously under-resourced prisons,” Mr Moses said.
Fire damage

A Prison Service spokesman said the incident at Swaleside had started at 1910 GMT and had been brought under control in 25 minutes.

He said: “We are not talking about something like Ford, which is an entirely different layout and regime.

“This is a closed prison where an incident was brought under control in 25 minutes. Ford is an open prison and had fire damage. The two are not very comparable.”

Three staff members required hospital treatment and 10 had minor cuts and bruises which did not need outside medical attention, he said.

He said it was hard to say exactly how many inmates had been involved in the disturbance, but eight had been identified as being involved in violence against staff and were in the segregation unit.

An investigation into the disturbance had started and appropriate disciplinary action would be taken, he added.

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