Addiewell Prison erupts in riot as 70 set fires and throw missiles

UP to 70 prisoners went on a riot at Addiewell Prison, firing snooker balls as missiles and setting fires.

The incident throughout yesterday afternoon saw a number of inmates take control of one wing of the West Lothian prison for more than three hours. The rampage sparked a full emergency response from police, the Scottish Ambulance Service, and Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service.

It is the latest of several riots at privately-run Addiewell, which has been criticised in the past for its “luxury” facilities including flatscreen televisions and en-suite showers.

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Prisoners took control of the wing at around 4.30pm for more than three hours, before being surrounded.

Inmates used snooker balls as missiles and are reported to have set off multiple small fires before police regained control at around 7.45pm. There were no reported injuries to prisoners or staff.

Sources said it was a “serious” situation requiring a “full-scale response”.

One source said: “It was well out of control. Up to 70 prisoners were involved.”

A spokeswoman for Sodexo Justice Services, which runs the prison, last night said: “We can confirm that an incident has occurred at HMP Addiewell. There are no reported injuries.” She added that the riot had broken out in one wing, while the rest of the prison had continued to run as usual.

An internal investigation into the incident is due to take place. One explanation offered today was that the riot was sparked by a clampdown on the illegal trafficking of drugs into the jail over the festive period.

However, a spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service could not confirm this.

He said: “I’m not aware of why particular individuals decided to behave in a criminal manner, but that is something that will be investigated. It is not appropriate for me to speculate on what the reasons are.”

The prison has been blighted by riots and fights during the past two years. In early December, one inmate suffered serious cuts when he was attacked by a fellow prisoner. He was left with deep slashes to his chest, arms and face after being attacked with a weapon fashioned from a glass jar.

Three months earlier, six men who were part of a six-hour long disturbance were jailed. Two pleaded guilty to assaulting a prison officer, while one inmate was caught on CCTV manoeuvring a fridge and moving a pool table. Another pair struggled with prison officers and one prisoner was caught on CCTV putting wet news-paper over a camera.

The previous December, one prisoner threw scalding water over an inmate who was allegedly bullying him.

The jail was the scene of a major disturbance in October 2009 which saw seven prison officers assaulted and damage caused to one wing was estimated at around £5000. Four prisoners were later given jail sentences totalling 17 years.

Over the past 18 months officers have recorded around 37 prisoner-on-staff assaults and 75 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults at the jail.