UK police storm Bedford prison after rioting inmates ‘take over two wings’ (VIDEO)
UPDATE: The riot has been “successfully resolved,” following police intervention, a spokesman for the local Prison Service said.
Up to 200 inmates were reportedly involved in the unrest at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Bedford, which started at around 5 p.m. local time.
The rioting inmates reportedly managed to occupy two prison wings by the time police intervened.
"There's been a serious incident which has resulted in two wings being taken over by prisoners," a spokesman for the Prison Officers Association (POA) told Reuters, adding that “prison officers from all over the country” were being dispatched to tackle the crisis.
“We are clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars,” the BBC reported citing Prison Service spokesman.
However, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, which has been on standby at the facility, said no signs of fire could be seen.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses outside the prison have reported police actively storming the building, with sounds of loud explosions going off at the facility.
A video has emerged on Twitter allegedly showing the mayhem filmed from inside the prison, with dozens of inmates apparently on the loose and yelling loudly.
Some of the prisoners were allegedly wielding knives and blades, Bedford Today reported.
The riot comes just two months after a report on the Category B prison conducted by the Chief Inspector of Prisons revealed many serious shortcomings. The survey found it was twice as easy for inmates to get drugs since the previous inspection in February 2014. The number of prisoners with a drug problem has respectively jumped from 4 percent to 14 percent.
The report also described the living conditions in the prison as “poor,” noting that inmates are forced to live in “crowded and cramped” conditions.
Meanwhile, critics said they were not surprised by the rioting, given the prison’s troubling state of affairs.
Frances Cook, CEO of the charity Howard League for Penal Reform, tweeted there was “apparently trouble” in Bedford prison, recalling that the poor state of the same city’s jail actually contributed to penal reform in the 18th century.
“Was terrible conditions in Bedford that led John Howard to launch prison reform crusade 200 years ago,” she tweeted. Howard is known as the first English prison reformer who also served as a sheriff of Bedfordshire and who used to inspect the prison.
Earlier, Cook wondered on Twitter if “things have reverted” to the state of 1780s.
Some others commenting on social media were even more direct.
“Treat people like animals and they'll behave like them,” Felicity Pepper wrote on Twitter.