Maidstone prison incident resolved with no injuries, officials say

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - An incident involving 40 inmates at Maidstone Prison in Kent, in southeast England, was resolved with no injuries to staff or prisoners, officials said on Saturday.

The incident, described as a "riot" by a senior member of the prison officers' trade union, was confined to the Thanet Wing of the prison, which houses about 180 inmates. The prison houses some 600 inmates in total.

"An investigation is under way and the perpetrators will be dealt with appropriately by the prison," the Prison Service said.

The authorities had deployed additional prison officers to the prison to help deal with the incident.

Ralph Valerio, a senior member of the Prison Officers' Association trade union, told Sky News television that the extra officers deployed were a so-called "Tornado" team of prison staff with special training for containing riots.

Valerio said inmates had been "smashing up" parts of the Thanet Wing and described Saturday's event as a "riot".

Experts on the British penal system drew a possible link between the incident and a reform toughening up prison conditions that came into force on Friday. The Prison Service had no immediate comment.

Maidstone is a "category C" prison, meaning that it is for inmates considered unlikely to attempt to escape. It is the third out of four security categories, ranging from A for the most dangerous to D for the least dangerous prisoners.

Maidstone houses sex offenders from southeast England as well as foreign nationals with more than 18 months left to serve.

The BBC reported there had been recent staff cuts at the prison and some inmates were dissatisfied because their living conditions had worsened. In particular, they felt they spent too long locked inside their cells at the weekend.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Gareth Jones and Sonya Hepinstall)

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