PRISON RIOT: It should never have happened

PUBLISHED: 14:22 12 January 2011

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Two guards for 500 inmates “a farce” say disgusted Midweek Herald readers.

IT SHOULD never have happened – that is the resounding opinion of taxpayers across East Devon after inmates at an open prison rioted on New Year’s Day.

Convicts at Ford Open Prison caused chaos after two prison guards and four support staff, on duty when trouble flared just after midnight, lost control of 40 troublemakers.

In total, there were more than 500 prisoners at Ford when the riot occurred.

The riot was sparked when prison guards tried to breathalyse inmates, who were thought to have been smuggling alcohol into the prison.

Specialist prison guards, wearing body armour, were sent to deal with the incident, which saw millions of pounds worth of damage caused as a number of buildings were burnt to the ground.

Steven Tucker, from Honiton, said: “Obviously, there were not enough prison officers on duty.

“It is bad that they only had two officers.

“No, it should not have happened.”

Kevin Coburn, aged 49, said: “I am surprised that the prisoners were able to riot. I am gobsmacked to hear that there were only two officers on duty.

“It is almost like a farce.”

“It’s probably due to a lack of funds, as well as spending cuts.”

Mandy Minkley, 51, from Honiton, said: “No, I don’t think there were enough prison guards on duty – you want more than two.

“It sounds like the prisoners had a good time.

“I think it could be seen as a warning and that the system needs revising.

“I was a bit angry about it when I first heard about it.”

Clive Harding, 48, from Newton Poppleford, said: “I think it is a disgrace.

“I can’t believe it – it’s just a joke.

“When you have only got two people looking after the prisoners there is going to be a problem.

“If there are only two on duty looking after things, you have got no chance.”

Mr Harding added: “They have got to find an alternative to the system, as it cannot go on like it all the time.

“I think there will be a lot more trouble as time goes on.

“Prisons are going to get fuller and fuller, due to the current economic situation.”

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