Sunday, 24 May 2020

Winson Green prison riot: How the battle unfolded

BIRMINGHAM: The facts of what happened in the Winson Green prison riots are beginning to emrge. A full investigation is underway with police at HMP Birmingham collecting any available DNA and CCTV evidence. Prisoners were able to take full control of four wings over a matter of hours yesterday. A total of 240 prisoners are understood to have been involved out of around 400 inmates on the site. The huge number of rioters is one factor in how they were able to takeover so much of the prison. Within an hour it had spread to nearby N wing as reports began to emerge. Many prisoners were able to post messages out online or send reports to friends on the outsie. It is likely word would have also spread throughout the prison rapidly.

G4S prison guards were soon behind security gates hoping prisoners remained locked in to the rear of the building. The public disorder trained Tornado Squad were sent in by the prison service around 2pm. Shortly after some prisoners reportedly grabbed powerful emergency hoses to use as make-do water cannons. In response, the water supply was cut off – disabling the prisoners’ weapon. Prisoners hurled paint ‘bombs’ at the riot squads, insiders reported. Photographs taken after the operation showed officers covered in paint emerging from the prison. As the sun went down prisoners could be heard chanting “we want food” in unison over the prison’s 30ft walls. As night fell, a number of fires broke out. Again one inmate was able to record footage of the incident with commentary before it made its way on to social media. Waiting firefighters were unable to gain access to the building and reach the flames. Meanwhile early reports suggested there were three people injured in the rioting. West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed one man was later taken to hospital: “Once it was deemed safe for ambulance staff to do so, they entered the prison and found one patient, a man believed to be in his 20s.

“He was treated for an injury to his face, cuts and bruises as well as a slightly reduced level of consciousness. “He was then transported to hospital for further assessment.” The Ministry of Justice confirmed no prison staff were injured. Footage has since emerged showing the damage inside HMP Birmingham this morning. Paint and broken objects littered the floor. Operators G4S says it has started to gather evidence while Justice Secretary has promised a full investigation. Elizabeth Truss said in a statement: “I want to pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of the prison officers who resolved this disturbance. “I also want to give my thanks to West Midlands Police, who supported G4S and the Prison Service throughout the day, ambulance crews and the fire service who also provided assistance. “This was a serious situation and a thorough investigation will now be carried out. Violence in our prisons will not be tolerated and those responsible will face the full force of the law.” Police are conducting investigations at HMP Birmingham today. DNA, CCTV and anecdotal evidence is expected to be gathered over the coming hours.

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