Prisoners have been confined to their cells and visits have been suspended at Bedford Prison following intelligence that a gun has been smuggled into the jail.
The category B men’s prison is at the centre of an ongoing “intelligence-led” search, with speculation that the firearm could be used for a breakout and that it could have been dropped in by a drone, smuggled in by a visitor or thrown over the perimeter wall from neighbouring Adelaide Square.
Prison sources quoted in today’s Daily Telegraph said that “a jail breakout or hostage-taking were potential motives for sneaking a firearm into a jail.
“An escape attempt would be the most likely reason.”
A prison service spokesman said: “Specialist prison officers are carrying out an intelligence-led search at HMP Bedford and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.
“We are also stepping up the war against illicit phones, drugs and contraband in prisons, and are investing up to £125m in tough new security measures.”
In 2019, the HM Inspectorate of Prisons published a damning report saying that Bedford Prison has suffered an “inexorable decline” in treatment and conditions, despite two years of internal prison service efforts to improve the jail.
An inspection last year found levels of violence within the jail that were among the highest in England and Wales.
This is an ongoing situation and we will update with more information as we receive it. The Bedford Independent has contacted the Ministry of Justice for comment.