A riot involving around 100 inmates at Western Australia’s largest prison is being investigated after some inmates climbed a roof and set fire to their cells.
The riot at Acacia Prison in Wooroloo, on the outskirts of Perth, was brought under control on Sunday evening after nearly six hours of unrest.
Two officers were treated for smoke inhalation and another was hospitalized with a knee injury after being hit by a projectile.
A prisoner was taken to hospital by ambulance after having a medical episode and also required treatment for smoke inhalation.
The incident came days after two prisoners and five staff members tested positive for COVID-19, leading to restrictions on social visits.
The WA Department of Justice said it was investigating the cause of the disruption, but played down suggestions it was linked to the virus outbreak.
He said the incident was limited to two blocks of the prison and initially involved around 20 prisoners.
Several climbed onto the roof of their block while others set fire to cells and damaged windows.
Attempts to negotiate with the prisoners failed and riot officers were deployed.
“At the height of the incident, a group of prisoners escaped and moved to the industrial area of another block of the prison, starting fires and causing further damage,” the ministry said. Justice in a press release.
“It is estimated that around 100 prisoners refused to comply with staff instructions at some point during the Troubles.
“No staff were injured and there was no threat to the wider community.”
The riot was brought under control around 9:45 p.m. Sunday.
Acacia, run by private contractor Serco, currently houses 1,462 medium-security inmates.
WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary Andy Smith said the facility was “woefully understaffed”.
“Prisoners managed to get their hands on tools, start several fires and approach freedom within a fence,” he said.
“The consequence of this riot will be that Acacia will be even more desperately short-staffed today than it was yesterday when the prisoners got on the roof and set the cells on fire.”
Acting Commissioner of Remedial Services Mike Reynolds said some staff were on sick leave.
He told Perth radio 6PR on Monday that the understaffing at the facility was “within the tolerance” of Serco’s contract with the state government.
The department said a damage assessment would be undertaken and prisoners involved in the riot could face criminal charges.
Australian Associated Press