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  1. Our live coverage has now ended
  2. Updates on Friday 23 December

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Merry Christmas!

That's all from the Kent Live team for today. We'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. 

We're back on Wednesday 28 December at 09:00 GMT.

Until then, we leave you with the choristers at Rochester Cathedral singing Once In Royal David's City.  

Happy Christmas from the stars

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Here’s the latest in our celebrity Christmas messages starting with DJ Fatboy Slim.

What sort of weather does Christmas have in store?

Rachel Mackley

Weather Presenter

If you were hoping for a white Christmas, prepare to be disappointed.

Here's your forecast.

Celebrity Christmas greetings

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Here's the latest in our celebrity Christmas messages, starting with legendary actress Stephanie Beacham.

Today's local newspapers

Stack of newspapers

Kent Online: Max reunited with dad after mother took him to Poland

Kent and Sussex Courier: A 43-year-old man has suffered ‘life-changing’ injuries after being hit by a train in Canterbury  

Kent News: Family celebrate ‘best Christmas present’ as cat returns FOUR YEARS after disappearing from Cliftonville home

Meet Wobbles the special reindeer

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

Think of reindeer and you probably picture a rural scene in Lapland. But did you know the largest reindeer farm in England is right here in Kent?

Joe Aribo

Charlton Athletic midfielder Joe Aribo extends his contract with the League One club until the summer of 2019.

Read more

RMT: 'We want to overthrow capitalism'

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

A senior RMT official has appeared on Russian television and called for its members to overthrow capitalism.

Union members are due to strike again over New Year in their ongoing dispute about the role of guards.

MP calls for prison officers to be paid 'what they're worth'

Claire Cottingham

BBC Live reporter

Prison officers in the South East should be paid more to recruit and retain staff, according to the MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

His comments come after inmates took control of a wing at Swaleside prison, which is in his constituency, last night. 

A police investigation's been launched after the riot, which reportedly involved more than sixty inmates.   

Santa comes early in Gillingham

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Find out how Gillingham FC have been spreading the seasonal joy this week.

Sunshine but a breezy Christmas Eve

Georgina Burnett

BBC Weather

Wet and windy, but Christmas Eve will be brighter.

Here's your Christmas forecast.

Gordon Henderson
The MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey says prison officers are better off if they get a job in a warehouse.

Len Goodman to cause electricity surge, National Grid says

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Kent's Len Goodman is expected to cause a spike in electricity demand as viewers bid farewell to the Strictly Come Dancing head judge, according to the National Grid.

BBC One will show a special programme, Strictly Len Goodman, on Friday.

The National Grid said the show would drive the biggest festive "TV pickup" - a sudden surge in electricity demand. Read the full story here.

Len Goodman

Latest recycling figures are out

Kathryn Langley

BBC Live reporter

It looks like there's a big difference in the amount of rubbish being recycled in Kent and Sussex.  

Severe disruption: M25 Kent anti-clockwise

BBC Travel

M25 Kent anti-clockwise severe disruption, before J5 for M26.

M25 Kent - One lane closed on M25 anticlockwise before J5, M26 (Sevenoaks), because of a broken down van.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

'A clearer sense of what happened is coming to light'

Peter Whittlesea

BBC South East Today reporter

The Prison Officers Association said there were disputes between inmates and prison staff over how many hours people would be locked up over Christmas.

There were raids of cells where personal possessions were then confiscated.

After that a riot broke out and prison officers lost control and retreated.

Prisoners inside HMP Swaleside

Prisoners were brandishing snooker balls which are often used as weapons and they let off fire extinguishers.

Tornado squads were brought in and by 01:00 the wing was under control.

Call to halve prison population to 45,000 in England and Wales

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

The prison population of England and Wales should be cut to 45,000, a former deputy prime minister and two former home secretaries have urged.

In a letter to the Times, Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke and Jacqui Smith said jails had become unacceptably dangerous.

They said inmate numbers had risen to more than 85,000 since Michael Howard declared in 1993 that "prison works". Read the full story here.

A prison officer.

Reality Check: Do England and Wales lock up more people?

The claim: England and Wales have the highest incarceration rate per head of the population in Western Europe.

Reality Check verdict: In 2014 England and Wales did indeed have the highest incarceration rate in Western Europe, marginally ahead of Scotland.

Read our BBC Reality Check analysis here.

Nick Clegg

Report described HMP Swaleside as 'dangerous'

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

HMP Swaleside has a capacity of around 1,100 inmates serving prison terms of more than four years.

It has eight wings comprised of single cells. 

Swaleside was condemned by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) in July, which described it in a report as "dangerous", with levels of violence that were "far too high" and many incidents of a serious nature. 

HMP Swaleside

The A wing of the prison houses the Open Academy, a study centre with a computer suite.

At the time of the HMIP report, inspectors said it was used by 50 of the 126 prisoners on the wing, who were enrolled on open and distance learning courses.   

Footage from inside HMP Swaleside
A wing of HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent was taken over by about 60 inmates during a disturbance.
Former governor says it's about the working regime of the prison.
Former prison governor, John Podmore, says it's about the working regime of the prison.

So why did the prison riot begin?

Peter Whittlesea

BBC South East Today reporter

I've been reporting from outside HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey all morning.

Swaleside Prison: Video shows inmates' riot
This video has been removed for rights reasons.

Former Swaleside governor: 'Prisons are undoubtedly dangerous'

John Podmore said on the Today programme that "prisons are undoubtedly dangerous" and suggested that fewer people should be locked up.

He said: "We should be sending fewer people to jail in absolute terms but we need to be looking at who we are locking up, why we are locking them up and how we deal with the way in which they are offending against society.

"We need a much more subtle approach than what we have at the moment."

Police vans at HMP Swaleside

'Swaleside is burning'

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Footage has emerged from inside HMP Swaleside after prisoners took control of a wing at the jail.

National newspaper headlines

Newspapers (generic)

Here's how the national newspapers are covering the disturbance at HMP Swaleside. 

Daily Mail: 'Swaleside is burning!': Inmates film carnage inside jail where 60 took control of a wing before a Tornado squad ended the FIFTH prison riot in two months.

The Sun: HMP Swaleside prison riot as 60 inmates take control of wing and set fires.

The Guardian: Riot officers called in to contain disturbance at Kent prison.

Daily Telegraph: HMP Swaleside: Wing reclaimed after 60 inmates take control in six-hour riot.

Daily Mirror: Prison guards end Swaleside riot after inmates take over entire wing of Kent jail.

'What happened at Swaleside could happen at any number of prisons'

Mike Rolfe, chairman of the Prison Officers Association, says many staff have not stuck at their jobs because of the challenging nature of working at HMP Swaleside.

Swaleside Prison: 'The governor told me it was a troubled jail'

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

The Guardian's prison correspondent Eric Allison recently visited HMP Swaleside, to write an article on conditions inside.  

HMP Swaleside: 'This is troubling news'

The Labour Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon MP, described the disturbance at HMP Swaleside as "yet more troubling news from our prisons".    

Richard Burgon MP

In July the Independent Monitoring Board said this prison is not safe and staff shortage is the major cause. As with Birmingham prison, the public will once again wonder what action the Justice Secretary actually took in response to the Board's concerns. She needs to tell us."

Richard Burgon MP(Lab) Shadow Justice Secretary

Swaleside disturbance: 'The prison system is in an absolute mess'

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

Eric Allison, prison correspondent for The Guardian, says HMP Swaleside's suffered from staffing shortages.  

Latest unrest in England's prisons

HMP Birmingham - 16 December 

Specialist riot squads were deployed after a riot broke out involving hundreds of inmates. The disturbance lasted more than 12 hours. 

HMP Bedford - 6 November

A riot saw up to 200 inmates go on the rampage, flooding the jail's gangways. 

HMP Lewes - 29 October

A national response unit had to be brought in to control the prisoners at the East Sussex jail during the incident which lasted for six hours.

Swaleside Prison: 'A tough place to work'

Bob Dale

BBC Live reporter

Mike Rolfe, chairman of the Prison Officers Association, says HMP Swaleside is a difficult prison to work in.  

Swaleside Prison: Wing reclaimed after inmates take control

Stuart Maisner

BBC Live reporter

Good morning from your Kent Live team. We'll be bringing you updates on the disturbance at Swaleside Prison.

Part of a wing in the jail was taken over by about 60 inmates last night.

It was reclaimed in the early hours, according to the Prison Service. The picture below was reportedly taken inside the prison as the disturbance was taking place. You can read the full story here.

Prisoners inside HMP Swaleside