Two Low Moss prison staff injured in disturbance

A few prisoners at Low Moss barricaded themselves in a cell. Picture: Ian Rutherford
A few prisoners at Low Moss barricaded themselves in a cell. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A PRISON wing at Scotland’s newest jail had to be locked down after a disturbance which saw inmates leave two staff needing hospital treatment.

Police are now investigating the disruption which is believed to have involved about 20 people and lasted several hours.

Troubled flared at Low Moss Prison, near Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, at 12:30pm on Saturday, when inmates confronted warders. A residential wing was locked down as officers tried to contain the situation.

Prison sources stress that not everyone in the wing was involved in the disorder.

Two officers were assaulted and taken to hospital with minor injuries, but returned within a few hours.

As the time went by, several inmates returned to their cells.

However, a hardcore continued to cause problems and barricaded themselves in a cell. The disorder lasted for seven hours.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said its priority was calming the situation before passing it to police to launch a criminal investigation.

It was not yet clear what sparked the disturbance.

Low Moss has experienced difficulties with assaults by prisoners.

A recent report found there were 165 assaults last year at the prison. Of that number 155 were on fellow inmates – including 15 serious

attacks – and ten on staff. There were also “five incidents of concerted indiscipline” over the year, most of which were said to be some form of sit-down

protest, it said.

The report, by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons David Strang, stressed Low Moss had “appropriate staffing levels” in place to “ensure good order is maintained”, adding “most prisoners reported that they feel safe within HMP Low Moss”.

Last year, there were a record 2,442 assaults in Scotland’s 16 jails, according to reports.

In June, the former chief inspector of prisons warned that a projected rise in the number of inmates would lead to greater violence. There are already more than 8,000 people held in Scottish prisons and that number is forecast to grow.

Brigadier Hugh Monro called for a reduction to 5,000 saying: “Too often I see single cells occupied by two prisoners. This produces poor conditions and increases the risk of violence.”

The Scottish Government’s support for community punishment, as an alternative to custodial sentences, has proven controversial.

Community payback orders – fines and an order to complete work for free – are used by judges and sheriffs as an alternative to custody.

There are concerns about their effectiveness, with recent figures showing that of 7,763 orders issued by the courts, 2,536 were completed.