Birmingham & Black Country

HMP Birmingham riot: Inmates built bonfires and 'baited' injured prisoner

Riot police enter HMP Birmingham Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prison officers were hit with missiles and paint during a 12-hour rampage by inmates in the jail

HMP Birmingham inmates built bonfires, pelted staff with missiles and paint and used an injured prisoner as "bait" during a 12-hour riot, it has emerged.

Details have been revealed of how prisoners took over four wings of the jail last month, causing £2m of damage.

The injured prisoner was put in front of a gate, but each time a squad tried to get him, prisoners became more aggressive, a councillor said.

About 500 inmates - a third of the jail's population - have been moved.

Investigations by the Ministry of Justice and West Midlands Police into what happened on 16 December at the category B prison run by G4s are ongoing.

More updates on this and other stories in Birmingham

Image copyright @snappersk
Image caption Members of the specialist Tornado squad were seen covered in paint leaving the prison

Councillor Roger Lawrence, chairman of the Birmingham prison and independent monitoring board, has revealed more details about the riot - described by the Prison Officers' Association as the worst since the Strangeways jail riot 26 years ago.

It is believed that trouble first began when N wing prisoners were being unlocked from their cells and six jumped on to balcony netting and threatened to take a guard with them.

The situation escalated and keys were taken from a guard on the safe side of a protective grille as he closed a door.

Another unprotected officer then used a key to double lock all the doors, preventing inmates from leaving.

After watching events unfold on CCTV in the command suite at the prison, Mr Lawrence said the snatch squad were repeatedly ready to get the injured prisoner.

"There was then a feeling that he was used as a bait, so that once the gates were open and the snatch squad was in, they would flood out into the rest of the prison."

Although prisoners smashed their way out of their block, 16 staff prevented them from accessing the rest of the jail by guarding a gate for 90 minutes.

Image caption A skip and new toilets were driven into the prison after the riot

"To hold it (the gate) and stop the prison being more taken over than it actually was was really very heroic, especially the person who double locked everywhere.

"That was a significant key moment in making sure things didn't get worse than they already had."

Prisons minister Sam Gyimah said he was "incredibly proud" of the officers at the jail and those who helped resolve the disturbance.

G4S managing director Jerry Petherick said the firm was working with police to help "bring the ringleaders to justice".

He said staff and their families were being offered support to "rebuild shaken confidence where required" while repairs were made to the four damaged wings.

Two people have appeared in court over the disturbance.

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