Smoking ban sparks prison riot
A SMOKING ban in jails sparked a riot that raged into last night at Victoria’s biggest remand centre.
Up to 60 inmates began the riot, which swelled into hundreds of prisoners breaching a “secure inner perimeter’’ at the Metropolitan Remand Centre at Ravenhall. Staff, guards and visitors were evacuated as chaos broke out about 12.20pm yesterday.
Inmates armed themselves with sticks, lit fires and smashed windows while commandeering tractors and buggies in a tense standoff.
Heavily armed police in riot gear, backed by an armoured blastproof vehicle called the “bear cat’’, moved in to restore order at 3.30pm yesterday, but authorities had not gained full control late last night.
Rioting inmates were peppered with tear gas as they breached a control room. A water cannon was also unleashed. Some prisoners pro- tected their identity by donning masks with riots continuing into the night.
It is understood that members of the Hells Angels and Comancheros are housed at the prison and ripped down fences to reach each other.
The riot triggered a lockdown at the nearby Port Phillip Prison, where a fire was lit in a cell.
Corrections Victoria said there was no threat to the public nor any injuries during the “disturbance’’, but Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard later admitted it was the biggest riot she was aware of.
“It might be to do with the smoking ban that starts tomorrow,’’ Ms Shuard said.
ONGOING: The tense standoff between rioters and police at the Ravenhall remand centre continued into last night.