THE Prison Service has ordered an investigation following a riot at Bedford Prison on Sunday night over lockdowns and poor conditions.
About 200 of the 500 inmates are believed to have been involved in the unrest.
Prison bosses are reported to have ordered cells to be unlocked, against officers’ advice.
The category-B prison was heavily criticised in an Inspectorate of Prisons report which in September 2015 found that it was “easier to get drugs than clean bedsheets.”
The report condemned standards at the prison as unacceptable and warned that “arrangements for managing violent and bullying behaviour and supporting victims were weak.”
Shadow justice secretary MP Richard Burgon MP tweeted: “More troubling news concerning our prisons. The Justice Secretary needs to do more, urgently, to tackle crisis.”
The Prison Officers Association (POA) says its members have raised concerns over safety at the prison for several months and that Bedford had been hit hard by government austerity measures and had “struggled to deliver a stable regime ever since.”
General secretary Steve Gillan said: “The POA has been warning about this situation of violence in our prisons. It would appear it’s coming to fruition. I just hope there’s no prisoners or indeed prison officers injured in the violence.”
Between 50 and 60 inmates are understood to have been removed from the prison yesterday afternoon.
In another incident, two prisoners escaped from Pentonville jail in London, cutting through metal bars before escaping over a wall.