STAFFING cuts were blamed yesterday after 120 inmates of a crisis-hit prison refused to return to their cells in a “disturbance” that lasted more than eight hours.
A fire was started during a “serious incident” involving 30 to 60 prisoners at HMP Ranby in Nottinghamshire on Saturday
The disturbance began at around midday and was not resolved until 8.10pm.
Police, ambulance and fire crews attended the prison, which is on a country road a few miles outside Retford.
Officers carrying shields and other equipment were seen entering the prison, later joined by around 15 firefighters in their full gear.
Several prisoner-carrying vehicles went into the prison to collect a number of inmates, who could be heard shouting and banging as they were driven away.
Minor damage was caused but there were no injuries to staff or prisoners, said the Ministry of Justice.
Prison staff are working with Nottinghamshire Police to identify the ringleaders.
A damning report published on Thursday on an 11-day inspection by HM Inspectorate of Prisons described the prison as unsafe with high levels of violence.
It found that two prisoners died through “self-inflicted deaths” last year.
A further two have died in a similar manner since the unannounced inspection in March.
Prison Officers Association assistant secretary Glyn Travis said the disturbance was “no surprise” to the union.
“It’s all down to chronic staff shortfalls and a management that are hell-bent on delivering things they can’t deliver safely,” he said.
“Prisoners are saying ‘We’re not dealing with this.’ They will react.”
Labour MP John Mann, in whose Bassetlaw constituency the prison lies, said his repeated warnings that “dysfunctional” management and serious staff shortages would lead to disaster had been ignored by ministers and prison officials.
“It is a prison where, for quite a time, it’s been clear prisoners have been running the prison,” he said.
“There are not the numbers or the expertise among the staff to deal with it.
“The governors were warned, the government was warned, by me and by many others, that this would lead to disaster.