Basically, the civil servants who get paid handsomely to make sure we don't find out what happens in our prisons are pretty pissed-off because yet again blogger Alex Cavendish got the story out about the the violent incident at HMYOI Aylesbury last Friday. Like many others, I watched the story develop not via the BBC or Sky rolling news channels, but via his twitter feed. This from his blog post:-
YOI Aylesbury: The Inside Story
Although it is common knowledge that our prison system is in deep crisis, the actual details of what is going on behind prison walls are often hidden from public view. Appalling events take place, but these stories are rarely told because of the suffocating blanket of official secrecy from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) that has come to envelop our jails like a thick mist. Transparency is a pipe dream.
Yesterday (Friday July 21) there was a serious incident of violence at HM YOI Aylesbury. We have learned this not by reading about it in the local or national newspapers or from seeing it on the television news, but only because reliable, professional sources inside the system have passed on the details to a private blogger who has an active interest in the prison crisis. That’s why the news was broken on my Twitter account this afternoon and why you are reading about the incident on this blog.
In a nutshell, a group of over 30 young inmates located on one wing became involved in a mass brawl yesterday morning. Rather than rewriting one of the accounts I’ve received, I’ll simply let the person (who has to remain anonymous for obvious reasons) tell the story for themselves, with their permission. This may be the only accurate account of this incident you’ll ever read, so it’s important the truth is told.
The incident yesterday was horrific. The wing has been brewing for a while. The worst, most difficult wing is being run by new officers. We are 30 staff down and now will be even more.
The wing is over run with problems of gangs and gang violence. There has been a big rise in weapons and drugs in the jail. The governors were warned. The wing in question houses most gangs in the jail on one wing.
A mass brawl broke out yesterday morning, calling on all officers available lots of times. We didn't have the staff. Prisoners were attacking each other with weapons – and staff.
Staff were trying to save their lives and got battered. Some were seriously injured. Another officer was on the landing unconscious. We had ambulances and fire service in trying to help alongside our healthcare department. If anything had happened elsewhere in the jail we wouldn't have been able to cope.
Aylesbury is at breaking point. Eleven officers had to go to hospital and others are injured.
I'm so angry by what has happened to be honest! The government do nothing. The public should know what really happens! I have never seen anything as bad as this in the years that I have worked there. Members of staff are in danger.
I enjoy my job and enjoy working with the lads, but yesterday was different. They had no fear and they didn't care. The staff tried their best and they worked incredibly hard. They put their lives on the line to save the lads’ lives when they seemed to just want to kill each other!
To be fair our number one governor is good and she's trying hard but she's battling against a broken system. We have so many new officers that work hard but they are so young and they just aren't getting the support from their seniors. Older members of staff are burnt out.
We have prisoners who are over 22 stuck in the jail because we barely have any offender supervisors to do the work and no adult jails will take our lads. The wings are rife with spice, cannabis, steroids and weapons.
And we have had a few near miss suicides recently, alongside a serious fight earlier in the year in which a brick was used to smash a lad’s skull in. I don't understand how the MOJ can sit there and justify what they do.
The staff try hard but what's three new staff on a wing of 70 lads mainly gang members? It's unsafe. I know staff are not eating and throwing up after work because they are so anxious to go to work.
I’m dreading going to work, having to try and help the people that have hurt my friends. What worries me now is some of the lads involved I would have put money on them being decent guys. They weren't the 'typical' disruptive prisoners.
It's fairly clear to all that the MoJ are no longer able to set the news agenda to suit their interests and that without bloggers like Alex, we would never have heard about this incident. This from the BBC website:-
Aylesbury YOI prison officers hurt in 'brawl'
Seven prison officers and one prisoner were taken to hospital after "disorder" at a young offender institution, police have said. It happened at HM YOI Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire on Friday morning, Thames Valley Police said. An online prison blog said 30 inmates took part in the "mass brawl".
Police said the injured people had since been released from hospital. The Prison Service said it was investigating the incident with police. Officers were called to "a report of disorder" at the young offender institution in Bierton Road at about 11:00 BST, but "officer deployment was not required at the incident", a spokeswoman said.
Prison UK blog
"Seven prison officers and one prisoner were taken to hospital for treatment." The incident came to light in an online blog on Prison UK. Author Alex Cavendish, a former prisoner, said he was passed the information via "reliable, professional sources inside the system".
"A mass brawl broke out yesterday morning... Prisoners were attacking each other with weapons - and staff," the informant said. He described the incident as "horrific".
"Staff were trying to save their lives and got battered. Some were seriously injured. Another officer was on the landing unconscious. We had ambulances and fire service in, trying to help alongside our healthcare department. The wing has been brewing for a while," he added.
A Prison Service Spokesman confirmed that "an incident involving a number of prisoners took place on Friday 21 July". We do not tolerate violence against our hard-working staff. Where incidents like this occur, we will always work closely with the police to push for the strongest possible punishment," he added. The incident is being jointly investigated by the Prison Service and Thames Valley Police.