HMP Birmingham riot: Hundreds of prisoners being moved following disturbance

Riot squads had to be deployed to the category B prison Credit: PA
  • Video report by ITV News deputy political editor Chris Ship

Some 240 prisoners are being moved out of HMP Birmingham because of damage to their cells following a 12-hour riot described as the worst since the infamous 1990 Strangeways riot.

Hundreds of inmates were caught up in the disturbance which spread over four wings of the privately-run jail, two of which appear to have been rendered uninhabitable.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "Two hundred and forty prisoners are being transferred out of HMP Birmingham following a serious disturbance.

"The prison remains calm and ordered with additional staff on site to offer support."

The spokeswoman said the Prison Service would work closely with G4S, which has run the prison since 2011, and that a full investigation was under way.

"A full assessment of the damage is under way. Initial reports indicate that two wings suffered superficial damage, with more serious damage to a further two wings," she said.

There were reports the damage was broken windows and damaged walls.

"A limited regime is being offered to those who were not involved in the disturbance and staff continue to work closely with West Midlands Police," she said.

Officers leave HMP Birmingham following the disturbance Credit: PA

Riot squads were deployed to the category B prison late on Friday, after reports of prisoners setting fire to stairwells and destroying paper records.

Specially-trained prison guards, known as "Tornado" squads, from areas including HMP Preston and Strangeways prison, were backed up by around 25 riot police as they moved into the facility.

One prisoner, believed to be in his 20s, was taken to an external hospital to be treated for a broken jaw and eye socket

A source told ITV News the dispute began over televisions that were not working.

There were no injuries among prison staff, the Ministry of Justice said.Nisar Khan, who is the brother of an inmate, recalled the scene that his sibling described to him:

Rodger Lawrence, chairman of the Birmingham Prison independent monitoring board, who has voiced concerns over safety at the prison, said the commission's last report to the government had recommended a review of the number of staff needed for the contract.

Chief executive of the National Offender Management Service Agency Michael Spurr said gang-related violence and violence fuelled by psychoactive drugs had "really changed the dynamic" in prisons but promised to "turn it around".

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme he said: "Where we are at this moment with our prisons is not where I or anybody, I think, in society would want to be, but I'm confident that we can change that, and we now are getting resources for the first time in a number of years that will enable us to do it."

Jerry Petherick, managing director for G4S custodial and detention, said the inmates behind the disturbance "showed a callous disregard for the safety of prisoners and staff".

He said: "Our teams have worked tirelessly throughout the night to assess the damage caused, start the process of clearing up and capture any evidence that could be used by West Midlands Police for any subsequent prosecutions."