Lewes Prison Riot

30 October 2016, 05:36 | Updated: 30 October 2016, 05:39

Specialist prison officers had to be brought in when rioting inmates "went on the rampage'' at Lewes Prison.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that a national response unit was drafted in to control the prisoners at the East Sussex jail during the violence which lasted from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the Government department said: "Specially trained prison staff have resolved an incident involving a small number of prisoners on one wing at HMP Lewes.

"We are absolutely clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars.''

Mike Rolfe, chairman of the Prison Officers Association, said that cells and offices were damaged in the "serious disturbance'' and blamed "poor management and severe shortage of staff''.

He said: "There were only four staff on that wing and all four retreated to safety after threats of violence and the prisoners went on the rampage.''

A report in February this year by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons found high levels of violence and poor oversight at Lewes.

The report said: "The high level of assaults demands more systematic and focused violence reduction analysis and actions."

After reading the report, Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, requested an urgent meeting with the Prisons Minister, Andrew Selous.

In June, a prisoner died after being beaten up in his cell. Wheelchair-bound sex-offender Patrick Foley, 85, was hospitalised after the attack and died on his way back to Lewes following his hospital discharge.

Figures released by the Home Office in August showed a 45 per cent rise in assaults at Lewes during 2015, increasing from 106 in 2014 to 154 in 2015.