It has emerged that the Government had been warned about the lack of staff at Ford open prison, two weeks before the inmates rioted.
Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke had been notified about shortages in a report by The Independent Monitoring Board. Their main concern being the lack of staff during night shifts. There are also worries about the low level of training for certain staff, who were patrolling alone.
The report also said “We are sceptical of the response received in the past that it must be adequate because there has not been a serious incident yet.”
Roughly 40 offenders took control of the prison, and began smashing the windows and setting fire to some of the buildings. It is thought that the violence originated in the early hours of New Years Day, when the guards attempted to breathalyse inmates who they suspected had been drinking.
At the time only two officers and four support staff were present, despite the fact that the centre holds roughly 500 inmates.
Unsurprisingly, the staff were forced to retreat as the violence intensified and it was only once riot police were on the scene that the situation was resolved.
By this time the rioters had already caused extensive damage to many of the buildings, including a gym, mail room and snooker and pool rooms.
A spokesman for Mr Clarke is claiming that the report did not reach him before the riots, saying that although their offices received it on the 16th of December, it was still being assessed.
He added “There is a wide-ranging investigation currently underway into events at Ford and staffing levels will be considered within that investigation.”