Lack of showers and time outside cells blamed for Aylesbury youth prison riot

UK

A lack of showers and time outside cells has been blamed for a riot by inmates in a youth prison over the weekend.

Young offenders “trashed” one of the wings in Aylesbury Prison on Sunday, leading to four prison officers suffering minor injuries, after the inmates were allegedly denied time out of their cells.

The mother of a teenager on the wing who remained in his cell while the riot took place told The Independent discontent had been rising among inmates after an alleged regime change two months ago which saw their time out of cells – known as “association” – change from once a day to just three days a week.

In footage seen by The Independent an inmate says: “Protests… Taking our association. We only get those three days a week and they’re taking it from us.. This was bound to happen.”

Separately, a woman whose partner is an inmate told the BBC there was a new regime and the prisoners were no longer allowed association during the week.

But the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has refuted the claims, saying there has been no regime change and that the inmates get association and a shower every day of the week.

The mother, who did not want to be named to protect her son’s identity, said the incident began just after 8am, when inmates were told they wouldn’t be getting association, and went on until 5:30pm. Inmates in the wing – of which there are around 70 – were not provided with meals throughout this time.

She said it was “heart-breaking” to hear her son tell her he was hungry because he had not eaten since his breakfast was delivered to his cell the previous evening.

“Those who were behind their doors were not being safeguarded at all. The boys who were rioting were smashing the flaps in the doors, like they were setting free caged animals,” she said. 

“They weren’t getting any food. My son called me and said he was starving. They had no food until 5:30pm  yesterday. It started just after 8am. It’s heart-breaking to listen to your son tell you he’s hungry.

“It’s scary as a mum to watch boys living in these conditions and be stripped of their human dignity and rights. They’re stuck in sweaty, hot rooms for 24 hours now. They’re not asking for massive things; they’re asking for sanitation and exercise.”

The incident comes less than a year after the prisons watchdog said there had been a “significant increase” in prisoner violence against both staff and other inmates in the jail, warning that the safety of inmates was a “major concern”.

The Inspectorate also raised concerns over living conditions at the institution, and that prisoners were being locked up for long periods with no activity and too little sentence progression.

Following the incident on Sunday, a prison service spokesperson said: “Prison staff at HMYOI Aylesbury successfully resolved a brief period of indiscipline yesterday, involving a small number of offenders on one wing. Offenders who behave in this way may be punished and face extra time behind bars.”

They added that the incident was confined to one area of the prison and the rest of the prison remained secure throughout, and that the four officers who sustained minor injuries had all since returned to duty.

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