Prisoners due to face court over £1m riot in prison

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Twenty-two men are due in court today following an inquiry into rioting at a Yorkshire jail which caused damage costing more than £1m to repair.

The accused were all inmates at Moorland Prison and Young Offenders’ Institution, near Doncaster, when trouble broke out over three nights in November 2010.

South Yorkshire Police confirmed yesterday that 16 men had been charged with riot offences and another six with violent disorder.

The men, whose ages range from 19 to 37, are expected to appear at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court this morning.

The hearing follows a 15-month police investigation into the disorder, during which inmates allegedly started fires, smashed ells, took hostages, overturned pool tables and hurled missiles at prison officers.

The trouble caused so much damage that 250 inmates had to be moved by security firms to other jails.

Detective Inspector Dave Mayfield, who led the police inquiry, said: “The investigation has been a lengthy and time-consuming one with a number of enquiries and interviews conducted.

“Working in conjunction with the Prison Service and the Crown Prosecution Service, we are pleased we have now got it to the stage where a number of people have been charged for their alleged involvement.”

The prison’s deputy governor, Brian Coffey, said: “I am pleased the criminal investigation has got to a stage where 22 people have been charged in relation to the disorder at HMP Moorland in November 2010.”

An internal prison investigation into the rioting saw a team, led by senior investigating officer Danny McAllister, spend almost a fortnight at Moorlands, inspecting damaged buildings and interviewing prisoners and staff.

It found the jail had not been overcrowded but its population had risen sharply before the trouble broke out and highlighted previous warnings of relationships between staff and prisoners being “less than satisfactory”.

The report criticised poor management at the jail, adding: “This less than effective operating environment allowed the signs and symbols of prisoner unrest to accumulate and go unheeded.”

Mr McAllister’s team found the disturbances had been handled well and said prison staff “acted with high levels of commitment and professionalism”.

But investigators highlighted concerns about some of the facilities and its schemes to engage prisoners in work and reward them for good behaviour.

They made 16 recommendations for improvement, some of which the Prison Service said afterwards had already been implemented.