10:26, January 09 282 0 theguardian.com

2020-01-09 10:26:05
Prison officers hurt in County Durham young offender institution riot

Four prison officers have been injured after eighteen prisoners were involved in rioting at a young offender institution, where staff are said to have lost control of a wing.

A “Tornado team” of specially trained riot officers was drafted in to quell the trouble at HM YOI Deerbolt near Barnard Castle, County Durham, when inmates took over C Wing. The disturbance was contained in the early hours of Thursday and the rioting prisoners were taken out of the jail to be held elsewhere.

The incident comes amid claims that the government’s “rehabilitation revolution” was failing with both prison warders and many prisoners living in fear.

Ian Carson, north-east representative for the Prison Officers Association, said the incident was symptomatic of a crisis in a prison system that is “fighting a losing battle”.

He said that in the past two months three prison officers across the country had taken their own lives.

Carson said: “We are seeing inexperienced staff brought in and handling situations they aren’t yet equipped for, a lack of management support and the people who have been recruited leaving in droves because of the levels of violence.

“We are receiving ministerial edicts demanding the service to regain control and reduce violence instead of trying to understand what is at the root of these problems. The rehabilitation revolution just isn’t working.”

A source, describing themselves as a concerned member of staff, contacted the Northern Echo newspaper revealing that the prison had been “on edge” all week, with experienced staff trying their hardest to keep things settled.

A spokesman for Durham police said the force was called at 7.45pm on Wednesday night following reports of a riot at the prison and the incident was resolved shortly after midnight. The prison officers assaulted during the riot are not thought to have sustained any serious or life-threatening injuries, added the spokesman.

Members of the Tornado team were previously summoned to help deal with a disturbance at the prison in 2015.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Violence and disorder in our prisons is not tolerated and those responsible will be punished for their actions.

“We are investing £2.75bn to improve our jails and make them safer – creating 10,000 additional prison places and introducing tough airport-style security to clamp down on the illicit items which fuel violence.”