Australia prison riot ends with police assault

2015-07-02 05:49


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Sydney - Three hundred prisoners who rioted in a Melbourne jail ahead of a smoking ban were back in their cells on Wednesday, prison authorities said, after police stormed the compound with tear gas and water cannon.

Four injured prisoners, two with dog bites, were taken to hospital after police teams moved in at 03:30 am (17:30 GMT on Tuesday), about fifteen hours after the riot began.

Prisons across the state are in lockdown with inmates confined to their cells.

Victoria State Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard told reporters the smoking ban, which began on Wednesday, was probably the cause of the riot, but an investigation would be held.

The state government said the ban would be enforced despite the riot, and smoking was now unlawful in Victorian jails.

Meanwhile, prison staff in the larger state of New South Wales are bracing for similar disturbances when a smoking ban in prisons starts there on August 10.

About 85% of prisoners smoke, and state governments across Australia have brought in bans for health reasons.

Prisoners advocate Brett Collins of Justice Action said the smoking ban was causing enormous stress and tension inside jails.

He told broadcaster ABC the smoking ban was a "denial of their rights" and it was like taking away prisoners' wages as cigarettes were like currency inside jails.

"It shows a lack of concern for these people as human beings and a lack of appreciation that jail is their home," Collins said.

Read more on:    australia

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