Two guards injured after emergency services called to fire at HMP Addiewell

The incident occurred on Monday morning.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 1:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 9:06 pm

A major clean-up operation is under at a privately run prison after inmates ran amok on Monday morning, injuring two guards and sparking a five-hour standoff with staff.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to HMP Addiewell in West Lothian shortly after 11am following reports of the disturbance.

Two officers are reported to have suffered minor injuries and video footage later emerged on social media channels showing what appeared to be an inmate in possession of a staff identity card.

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HMP Addiewell

It is understood one of the officers was doused with boiling liquid, but did not suffer serious burns.

Prison insiders claimed the trouble - involving at least five inmates - was prompted by unrest over the way they are being treated amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The disturbance led to the private jail’s Forth D Hall being trashed and mattresses set on fire“, with smoke seen billowing above the building.

Sources say staff at all Scottish prisons and Young Offenders Institutions had already been briefed about growing tension among the inmate population over Covid-19.

The Scottish Prison Service say that 93 inmates across 12 institutions are displaying signs of being infected, leading to a decision to introduce special measures, special measures, including the ending of visits, education classes and workshops are being considered to reduce the risk if further cases.

Insiders maintain that overcrowding which has already placed a strain on resources is making the situation worse, but one prison source said: “whether or not this is down to coronavirus or not has still to come out.

“You have to bear in mind that Addiewell houses some very serious criminal figures from across Scotland as well as the run-of-the-mill inmate. It has had well-publicised issues with legal highs and other drugs and staff have been targeted before.

“This could be about cons protesting over the virus, but it could equally be about nothing more than someone creating a diversion for other activities or just for the sheer hell of it.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service confirmed its crews had attended the jail.

A spokesman said: “We were alerted at 11.12am on Monday, March 23 to reports of a fire within a prison in West Lothian.

“Operations Control mobilised five fire appliances to West Calder’s HMP Addiewell, however the fire was extinguished by prison staff prior to the arrival of crews.

A spokesperson for Sodexo, which operates HMP Addiewell, said: “A small number of residents took part in a violent incident, which was securely contained within one of the wings in the prison. Some damage was caused to the fixtures and fittings before our specially trained staff brought the incident to a safe and professional conclusion in the evening.”