Inmates claim they were 'close to rioting' during staff protest

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HMP Channings Wood

Inmates claim they came close to rioting as they remained locked in their cells while prison services resumed after a staff protest.

Prisoners at HMPs Channings Wood prison and Featherstone said they were kept in cells for 24 hours on Tuesday and until midday on Wednesday.

One told the BBC "it was kicking off" among prisoners.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said prisoners remained in their cells until the service returned to normal.

The prisoners were kept in their cells as up to 10,000 prison officers in England and Wales stopped work over claims of a "surge in violence" in jails.

The officers returned to work after a High court injunction ordered the protest to cease.

One inmate from Channings Wood, a Category C prison near Newton Abbot in Devon, told the BBC there had been no exercise, access to washing, medication or phone calls and he only got one meal on Tuesday.

Image caption,
An inmate at HMP Featherstone, a category C prison near Wolverhampton, said it was "so corrupt"

He said: "Some of the lads are setting fires. It's kicking off now. I think the POA (Prison Officers Association) want a riot.

"This isn't a bad jail, they've got it easy here."

The MoJ said inmates had received food and medication as normal.

Six fire engines were called to Channings Wood on Tuesday after a fire started inside the building but the blaze was out when they arrived.

'Restricted regime'

An inmate at HMP Featherstone near Wolverhampton contacted BBC WM on a mobile phone which he said had been smuggled in to say the the jail was "totally out of control".

He said inmates were unaware about the protest being staged by prison officers, a claim the Ministry of justice (MoJ) denied.

"There's a lot of things going on here that the [MoJ] just don't know about," he said.

The MoJ said it is examining the prisoner's comments about the mobile phone.

A spokesman for the POA said staff are working as normal though "they could be on a restricted regime because of staffing levels".

There were also reports of a small fire in a cell at Norwich Prison on Tuesday which the fire service extinguished.

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