A UNION leader has blamed Government staff cuts for unrest at a North-East prison that led to one inmate being taken to hospital.

About six prisoners were involved in the trouble at Holme House Prison near Stockton which happened at about 6pm on Thursday night but was contained within 45 minutes.

Details about exactly what caused the trouble have not been released.

However, Mike Quinn, vice-chairman of the National Association of Probation Officers Northumbria branch, whose members supervise prisoners in the prison, said staff cuts were worrying.

It has been reported that there is now one prison officer for 30 inmates following “significant” staff reductions.

Mr Quinn said: “Thursday evening’s disturbance at HMP Holme House reminds us that prisons across the North-East are under pressure, and it can't be a coincidence that this is at a time of cuts by the Government across the whole of the criminal justice system.

“We should take this moment to remember the important and challenging job prison and probation staff undertake within prisons to keep people safe in custody, and prepare them for release.

"It's ironic that this is a job being made even more difficult by a so called Justice Secretary who bans books in prison and wants to sell off Probation in Durham and Teesside to companies like Sodexo, who made huge staff cuts at HMP Northumberland.”

Mr Quinn was backed by Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham, who said: “I am concerned that right across the prison estate there are fewer staff to maintain order and the system seems to be under considerable pressure.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “This was an isolated incident that was quickly resolved and had nothing to do with staffing levels.”

He added that Holme House’s own prison staff contained the incident.