Police officers are assisting prison guards at HMP Bedford following reports of a riot. Officers and ambulance crews were called to the Category B prison at around 5pm GMT today (6 November) following reports that inmates had seized control of parts of the facility.
The unrest was reportedly sparked after the length of social time that prisoners could spend together was cut.
One witness, claiming to be an inmate, told Mirror Online: "Prisoners are walking around with knives and coshes. They've nicked mobile phones out of the office, everything's been smashed," the inmate claimed.
Local resident Greg Chappell said that he saw around 13 police cars surrounding the prison. Videos capturing chaotic scenes from inside the facility have emerged online.
Prison Officers Association (POA) General Secretary, Steve Gillan said: "We do know there's concerted ill-discipline if not a riot situation going on in Bedford.
"There could be anything up to 200 prisoners involved. We don't know how many are out of the cells, some are still locked up," he added. "Prison officers on the landings have withdrawn to a safe place, so prisoners are out in large numbers.
"We don't know if it will turn into a full-scale riot as these things can turn very quickly."
A police spokeswoman said: "Bedfordshire Police is currently assisting HMP Bedford following reports of unrest within the prison. We were called shortly before 5pm and have a number of officers at the scene working with prison staff to resolve the issue."
A spokesman from the prison services said that those who have taken part will be punished by having their sentences extended, BBC News reported. "We are absolutely clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars."
Ambulance and fire services are also on standby outside the prison. A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: "We are at the scene on standby at this stage. It's an ongoing incident. We are not in the prison."
In a report on HMP Bedford published in September, inmates claimed it was easier to obtain drugs than clothes or bedding.