Prisoners protest on roof at HMP Oakwood

Prisoners staged a second rooftop protest at a controversial South Staffordshire jail today - the latest drama for the beleaguered prison.

The prisoners on the roof at HMP Oakwood
Prisoners on the roof at HMP Oakwood in November

Six prisoners were involved in the demonstration at HMP Oakwood in Featherstone from around 11.30am.

The group, most of whom were clad in fluorescent orange jackets, were heard shouting down from the roof while staff from G4S, which runs the jail, stood around the perimeter to keep the area secure.

A helicopter also circled the area.

A similar protest involving three inmates took place in October, just days after the £150 million prison was dubbed ‘Jokewood’ in a critical report.

The prison was criticised for high levels of violence, while a report uncovered evidence of criminals abusing drugs and alcohol as well as hundreds of sex offenders being due for release without having their behaviour properly addressed.

A G4S spokesman confirmed the incident involved six prisoners and added: “The Ministry of Justice has been alerted and our normal contingency plans have been enacted.”

Featherstone councillor Frank Beardsmore said the term ‘Jokewood’ was even more apt after the latest incident at the prison.

“It’s very disappointing that this has happened again,” he said.

“It’s a joke prison - ‘Jokewood’ is right.

“Whatever’s being done at the prison just isn’t good enough it it’s happening again.

“The security there isn’t good enough and this has proved it.

“Residents have expressed deep concerns to us about security and it’s going to flare up again now, particularly for elderly people who are very worried.

“It’s the latest in a long line of problems.”

Last week controversial proposals to turn part of HMP Oakwood and neighbouring HMP Featherstone into open prisons were shelved following outcry from villagers.

The proposals would have seen prisoners at Featherstone allowed into the community, as well as a Category D wing created at Oakwood.

Nearby resident Gemma Forshaw, a psychological therapist of East Road in Featherstone, said: “It is a bit worrying - they should be inside the building or the grounds.

“I’ve never really had any concerns about anybody getting out but it is a security issue.”