Maidstone prison disturbance resolved

POA vice-chairman: "Prison officers have been warning for some time that because there are less of them available... there is growing discontent"

A disturbance involving about 40 inmates has been resolved at Maidstone prison in Kent, officials have said.

A spokeswoman said the situation was brought to an end at 18:30 GMT "with no injuries to staff or prisoners."

Maidstone is a Category C men's jail whose prisoners include sex offenders and foreign nationals with more than 18 months left to serve on their sentence.

In a separate incident, a protest by about 60 prisoners at Rye Hill prison in Warwickshire has ended peacefully.

'Growing discontent'

Start Quote

Prisoners from one block were calling to prisoners in another block asking them what was going on”

End Quote Jackie Hipwell Local publican

A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service said it was informed about the incident at 16:00 and had sent two vehicles to the prison in a supportive capacity.

The vehicles were "hazardous area response teams".

Kent Fire and Rescue service had been on standby at the scene.

Prison Officers Association vice-chairman Ralph Valerio said staff shortages at Maidstone may have been a factor.

He said: "Prison officers have been warning for some time at HMP Maidstone that because there are less of them available, in order to deliver the regime that the prisoners living in Maidstone prison expect, that there's growing discontent.

"If that information is not taken seriously bad things can happen. Bad things did happen at Maidstone today and ultimately the taxpayer bears the burden."

Andrew Neilson, from the Howard League for Penal Reform, said it could have been linked to a national policy withdrawing some perks from inmates.

He said: "It's certainly notable that we've seen a crackdown on so-called prison perks - the fact that, for example, prisoners wouldn't have access as readily to televisions in their cells, also access to things like gymnasiums."

'Like football chanting'

Jackie Hipwell, landlady of the Swan Inn opposite the prison, said she heard shouting "like a football crowd chanting".

Local business owner Jackie Hipwell said she heard shouting from inside the prison

"You occasionally get some disturbances... so we thought that must be what it was, but it usually dies down pretty quickly," she said.

"I could hear shouting from inside the prison. Prisoners from one block were calling to prisoners in another block asking them what was going on."

Earlier reports had suggested that up to 180 inmates were involved.

On the incident in Warwickshire, a Prison Service spokesman said: "There was a passive demonstration at HMP Rye Hill where around 60 offenders refused to return to their cells. This was peacefully resolved within a few hours."

Category C prisons are for inmates who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who are unlikely to try to escape.

Maidstone, with an inmate population of about 600, is a training prison that predominantly houses sex offenders from Kent and Sussex.

The jail has a small number of foreign prisoners and works with the UK Border Agency.

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