RIOT officers stormed Winchester prison after 19 inmates fled their cells by secretly removing bricks, it has been reported.
The prisoners at the category B jail chipped away at the mortar using utensils taken from the kitchen, The Telegraph reported today.
The incident happened on Tuesday night when National Tactical Response Group staff were deployed and regained control.
Those involved will be moved to other jails across the country.
And they face adjudication hearings and police investigation.
The Prison Service will now carry out a full assessment of the jail in a bid to stop it happening again.
A spokesman said: ‘Our highly-skilled staff successfully resolved an isolated incident at HMP Winchester on Tuesday night with no injuries to staff or prisoners.
‘We are working closely with the police and will push for the strongest possible punishment for those involved – including more time behind bars.
‘We are urgently taking action to improve and modernise our Victorian jails – spending up to £2.5 billion to create 10,000 new prison places and investing £100m to boost security and safety.’
The Prisoner Officers’ Association warned of the risk that inmates were using plastic cutlery to dig holes to escape.
Mark Fairhurst, chairman of the POA, said: ‘This is a serious incident when you have prisoners from different cells get onto the landing at night when there is only one member of staff on patrol. It raises serious questions over the safety of staff.’
Four prisoners have been taken to hospital as a precaution.
The Independent Monitoring Board found the Victorian-era prison’s buildings need significant maintenance. It said: ‘Cells regularly need repair because of wear and tear or vandalism.’