A prison wing has been reclaimed after a night of rioting involving up to 60 prisoners.
The disturbance at HMP Swaleside was brought under control just after 1am today (Fri), following a spate of riots across the country.
Riot-trained prison officers from the specialist Tornado Squad were called to the prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, after fights broke out just before 7pm last night.
All inmates are now back in their cells, no prison officers were injured and an inquiry is underway.
The riot follows another outbreak of violence in Birmingham last week involving 600 prisoners, described as the worst prison riot in 25 years.
Despite speculation on social media, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed no prisoners were moved to HMP Swaleside from HMP Birmingham following the riot there last week.
Just after midnight, a Prison Service spokesman said: “Specialist teams from the Prison Service have been deployed into HMP Swaleside as part of the ongoing operation to manage an incident involving 60 prisoners isolated to one landing on one wing.”
Fires were lit inside the building and emergency services were on the scene for several hours.
The incident was contained to one landing on A Wing of the Category B men’s prison, which houses more than 1,100 inmates.
A Wing has 126 single cells.
A helicopter – thought to be a police aircraft – was seen hovering over the prison.
People with relatives working at the prison expressed concern about their loved ones.
Jasmine Newbury, from Minster, whose partner works at the prison, said: “I have this worry every single day when my partner leaves for work and I saw it on breaking news sitting here with our eight-week-old daughter.
“It’s not right that the officers are risking their lives to earn a living.
“It’s not what you want before Christmas. I won’t be able to relax until he walks in the door and god knows what time that will be.”
A former prison officer at HMP Swaleside told of the volatile atmosphere inside the prison, after a report in July described the prison as “dangerous” and found levels of violence were “far too high”.
He said: “Swaleside has and always will be a volatile place, and things only got worse when the government depleted an already overstretched workforce in the name of deficit reductions.
“I always use this saying, ” you can only kick a dog a few times before it bites you on the arse”.
“Unfortunately the dog is now biting back, but it’s a shame the prison service chief executive and the ministry of justice and Government didn’t listen to the warnings those on the ground floor had been saying for years.
“I only hope that all the officers and the innocent prisoners caught up in the middle of this incident remain safe.”
He said: “Some fires have been lit, apparently, and basically we know that it’s an ongoing incident.”
“With the recent riot in Birmingham and a number of other disturbances in recent weeks it’s not really a surprise.
“It’s because of lack of staff, and we’ve got more prisoners behind bars. This produces a number of problems. With under staffing, lack of resources and over crowding we have seen the population in prisons double.
“This all contributes to the disturbances inside prisons.”