§ Mr. David Porter
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the disturbances which occurred inside Blundeston prison, Suffolk, on 11 and 12 January.
§ Mr. Mellor
During the evening of 11 January a demonstration by prisoners in one wing spread quickly to two other wings. Damage was caused to fittings, furniture and windows and prison officers had to withdraw from two wings and the upper part of the third wing for a time, for their own safety. Police were deployed outside the prison, the other emergency services attended and staff from other prisons were sent in support in accordance with contingency plans and were held in readiness but not deployed. No inmates escaped. Prison staff regained 377W control of two wings in about two hours and complete control had been restored by midnight, without injury to staff or inmates or structural damage.
The regional director for the south-east region of the prison service is examining the cause of this demonstration, which is not immediately evident. Meanwhile, although no accommodation was lost, 24 inmates have been transferred to other prisons in the region for control reasons and work is almost complete on repairing the damage.
This was an unpleasant incident and I should like to pay tribute to the professional way in which it was handled by local management and staff and to the other services concerned for their full and ready assistance.