'Riot' at crisis-hit prison as three inmates rushed to hospital

Around 20 prisoners have reportedly been involved in a riot at a crisis-hit jail which has seen 10 sudden inmate deaths in three months. Three inmates of HMP Parc in Bridgend have been rushed to hospital following Friday's unrest.

An air ambulance attended the prison on Friday before being stood down. G4S, the firm that runs the prison, says the prisoners' injuries are not "life-threatening". A spokeswoman for the private security giant said: “Staff at HMP Parc swiftly resolved two short-lived incidents involving prisoners on Friday, with no officers injured. Those involved will receive the strongest possible punishments, including criminal prosecution.”

G4S says one of the incidents involved around 20 prisoners and was "safely resolved" after help from the Prison and Probation Service, which we understand sent a 'tornado team' — a prison riot squad — into the jail. According to G4S the second incident was unrelated and involved "an altercation between three prisoners who required hospital treatment". No staff were injured in either incident.

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Prisoners' families and sources close to the jail have told WalesOnline that the unrest amounted to a riot. Vans and teams of security officers were seen going into the prison into the early hours of Saturday. The trigger for the disturbances is not clear. We have asked G4S and South Wales Police for more information including the severity of any injuries and whether there have been any arrests.

On Wednesday we revealed that Parc's death toll had reached 10 in just over three months. A 38-year-old prisoner, Warren Manners, died suddenly that day in circumstances that police do not believe to be suspicious. We previously revealed allegations from former staff members and prisoners of drug-dealing, violence, corruption, chronic understaffing and a lack of mental health support. Grieving families marched outside the prison on Monday in a demonstration calling for G4S to be stripped of its £400million contract. Protesters chanted "G4S out" and carried placards with messages such as "stop the drugs".

Earlier this month the prisons minister Edward Argar said four out of nine recent sudden deaths at Parc were believed to be drug-related, four were not, and one was "potentially so". Two of the deaths, he said, were thought to be from natural causes. On Monday we interviewed the heartbroken family of 19-year-old Michael Horton, who was allegedly threatened by drug-dealing inmates before his death at the prison on May 7.

A woman who recently worked at the prison told us: "The prison was ultimately run by the prisoners, with officers being paid to bring in contraband items. The enhanced red band prisoners, who were able to roam, would then ferry these items across the prison." Rampant drug use, she claims, would go "unnoticed or ignored".

Police recently arrested a Parc employee on suspicion of smuggling in contraband. The 36-year-old man is the fourth person within two months to have been arrested in connection with illicit items or drugs allegedly brought into Parc. The relationship between the prison and the first three people arrested is unknown.

Mr Argar told Parliament that the jail is "safe" and that the contract "continues to perform well" but he did say the UK Government has issued an improvement notice on G4S for urgent action on Parc's security. A G4S spokeswoman said: “We have a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and use a range of tactics to tackle the ingress of drugs and reduce demand... The vast majority of our staff are hard-working and honest. As with every other prison in the country, we work closely with the police and the [prison service] counter-corruption team to crack down on the small number who may break the rules."

If you would like to speak to WalesOnline about an issue at Parc prison, email us at conor.gogarty@walesonline.co.uk