Home / China / World

Police quell riot at prison over smoking ban

By Agencies in Melbourne, Australia | China Daily | Updated: 2015-07-02 07:51

Heavily-armed police quelled a riot involving up to 300 inmates at an Australian prison on Wednesday over the introduction of a smoking ban. Some prisoners were injured.

Melbourne's Metropolitan Remand Centre remains in lockdown after the 15-hour disturbance during which doors were smashed, fires were lit and some inmates armed themselves with sticks and iron bars from the jail's agricultural sheds.

Three prison staff members received minor injuries, and five inmates were taken to a hospital, some with dog bites, after police moved in during the early hours of the morning, reportedly using tear gas.

Victoria state Police Minister Wade Noonan said a full investigation would be launched.

The riot was triggered by a smoking ban in Victorian prisons that took effect on Wednesday. State Premier Daniel Andrews insisted there would be no rethink of the policy.

"The smoking ban will not be changed," he said. "We do not reward that sort of behavior by making policy changes."

On its website, Corrections Victoria said that, starting July 1, no one would be allowed to smoke anywhere on prison property, and tobacco, pipes, lighters and matches would be considered contraband.

"Smoke-free prisons will provide a healthier and safer workplace for everybody, a safer prison system and a better quality of life for people who quit smoking," it said.

Victoria Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard added that "an enormous amount" of work had been done leading up to the ban, including offering nicotine replacement therapy and a program to help smokers quit.

But of the large number of prisoners who are smokers, few were happy.

Brett Collins, a former prisoner and spokesman for Justice Action, an advocacy group targeting abuse of authority, called the ban "bullying" and "a denial of their rights".

"People are just totally outraged. ... They have very little to lose," he said in a national radio interview.


Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349