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Friday 13th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

RIOTING prisoners attacked prison officers using pool balls as weapons yesterday, leading to calls for an urgent prisons staffing review.

The riot by more than 80 prisoners at Long Lartin high-security prison in Worcestershire began on Wednesday evening and continued into the early hours.

Specially trained riot squads of prison officers were drafted in to quell the riot.

Reports suggest that trouble had been brewing inside the prison for some time after new governor Claire Pearson introduced tougher restrictions on family visits and forced inmates to spend more time in their cells.

On Tuesday,  prison governors had warned against increasing violence, serious disturbances, suicides and self-harm in Britain’s overcrowded and understaffed jails.

Prison officers’ union POA demanded urgent action on overcrowding, understaffing and pay.

POA assistant general secretary Glyn Travis said: “The prison service continues to lurch from one crisis to another and there is little evidence to suggest that anyone in authority has any idea how to resolve the current situation in our prisons.

“Each and every day prison officers are facing increased levels of violence and being forced to work in dangerous conditions — conditions that many independent authorities are critical of.

“These authorities have called for more staff and improved conditions to address the chronic problems.”

He said the government must tackle chronic staffing shortages and ensure “proper recognition and reward” for prison officers’ work.

Mr Travis criticised a “pathetic and insulting pay award.”

Prison Governors Association national officer John Attard said: “The fact that this is a high-security prison must be ringing alarm bells at the most senior level.

“When we get disturbances of this nature in high-security prisons the worry is if there is a potential for this to happen again.”

He said Long Lartin had “dodged a bullet” because the riot was brought under control, but called for a review of the service.

In the House of Commons, Labour’s shadow justice minister Richard Burgon said the riot “marks another low point” in the government’s prisons policy.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah was forced to reiterate a government election pledge to close down old Victorian prisons by 2022 after Mr Burgon accused the government of shelving the plans.