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Friday, November 21, 1997 Published at 18:05 GMT


Prison siege ends as officer released
image: [ Young offenders threw burning bedding and clothes out of their cell windows ]
Young offenders threw burning bedding and clothes out of their cell windows

Prison officers have rushed a barricaded room at a young offenders' institute to end a 19-hour hostage crisis.

An officer being held by two youths at the Northumberland centre was freed, apparently unharmed.

He was taken hostage as inmates at Castington Young Offenders' Institute at Acklington, near Morpeth, finished an association period on Thursday evening.

A police spokesman said the two unnamed youths barricaded themselves and the officer in an office on one wing of the 300-cell centre.

[ image: Police quickly secured the institution, which houses offenders aged 17 to 21]
Police quickly secured the institution, which houses offenders aged 17 to 21
At least two small fires were lit during disturbances and inmates who remained locked in their cells hung banners from windows with obscenities daubed on them while screaming at reporters waiting outside.

Prison Service spokesman Ben White said the Governor ordered in trained staff after concern grew for the kidnapped officer's safety.

A statement said: "The prison officer received cuts and bruising and was badly shaken. Both prisoners, who were unharmed, have been arrested.

"A police investigation is now underway. The prison service will also be launching an internal investigation into this incident."

Director of Operations Alistair Papps said: "I am pleased that this incident has been brought to an end. It is a tribute to the professionalism of the officer involved that he kept cool in very difficult conditions.

[ image: Officer taken hostage after an association period ended]
Officer taken hostage after an association period ended
"He and all the staff at Castington deserve recognition for their skill in bringing this incident to a conclusion without major injury to either the prison officer or the prisoners involved."

The officer has been taken to hospital for a check-up.

A man who has friends inside the institute said: "If you treat people like animals, they act like animals. Every time I have visited that place I've been strip-searched - a full intimate search."

The man, who refused to give his name, said: "It's known as a hard prison with hard young lads in it. But it's like most prisons, they treat prisoners like scum instead of educating them."

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