Prisoners Gain Control for 12 Hours Amid Riot at HMP Birmingham

Prisoners took selfies wearing riot gear

Friday saw a mass riot break out at the HMP Birmingham which led to prisoners gaining control of the site for a full 12 hours. It is believed that 240 prisoners were involved in the riot, more than half of the full 400.

The fight for control first began at 9am, 16th December when prisoners managed to take control of four wings of the prison. Property was damaged and fires were lit. Riot squads were called in to subdue the prisoners which led to three injured inmates and one man being taken to hospital.

Prisoners were heard chanting ‘we want food,’ with some claiming they hadn’t been fed in two days. Many prisoners used smuggled phones to record the destruction, which showed litter and trash strewn about the corridors, as well as rioters breaking objects.

A tornado squad member seen blasted with paint. Source:

Overwhelmed, G4S- a private company which runs the prison- was forced to give control to the prison service. Pictures leaked from the site show Tornado Squad members covered in paint as well as white paint covering certain areas of the prison, believed to be the work of ‘paint bombs.’ It is alleged some of the prisoners used high pressure water hoses to defend themselves. The amount of fires and destruction is expected to cost up to a million pounds. Fire crews and paramedics were also called to the scene though were unable to gain access.

The riot was finally contained at around 10pm. Since then, almost all 240 prisoners have been transferred out to other prisons. A full investigation is underway to decipher how the riot came to be and how the prisoners managed to seize control. CCTV, interviews and DNA testing will all come into effect. The Ministry of Justice has said those remaining at the prison have been placed under a ‘limited regime.’

Jerry Petherick, managing director for G4S custodial and detention services, said: ”Our teams have worked tirelessly throughout the night to assess the damage caused, start the process of clearing up and capture any evidence that could be used by West Midlands Police for any subsequent prosecutions.”

Social media images sent from inmates show just a fraction of the damage

“This disturbance is rightly subject to a thorough investigation and we are working openly and transparently with the Prison Service and other relevant authorities to understand the causes behind it.”

HMP Birmingham is the first prison to have gone under private sector control. One former prisoner officer- who quit working at HMP Birmingham in March- has said the Friday riots were “highly predictable.”

“I saw it coming. It was a big disaster waiting to happen. It was destined to happen. I spoke to the governor and said it’s not working.


“There was no sense of security, no back-up. They were just not listening. I simply didn’t feel safe at work – they just didn’t have the staff. It was the police that were brought in, it was the riot police that were brought in. How many thousands has that cost the taxpayer? It’s a disaster.”




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