At Least 15 Casualties in Mass Poisoning Incident, HMP Lewes Prison, UK

United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.

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Update (0400 EST, 29 MAR): The Ministry of Prisons has confirmed that this incident was a mass food poisoning event caused by curry. 3 staff members and 3 prisoners have been hospitalized following the meal after a service in the prison chapel.

Update (1046 EST): Prisoners are now being transferred to Eastbourne Prison as Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) response teams have been sighted establishing decontamination checkpoints.

At approximately 1000 EST, local British media began reporting on an emergency incident at the His Majesty’s Prison Lewes, a local category B prison located in Lewes in East Sussex, England. Initial reports are indicating that at least 15 prisoners have been poisoned by an unnamed substance. At least two of the prisoners are in critical condition. According to the Daily Mail, the prison has been placed in lockdown.

According to the South East Ambulance Service and the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Department, eight ambulances have been dispatched. There has been no comment from His Majesty’s Prison Bureau on the ongoing incident as of this publication.

Drug Smuggling Prevalent

Drug dealing is rampant at this particular prison. In 2016 there was a riot lasting 6 hours where prison officers were forced to retreat to safety. Mike Rolfe of the Prison Officers Association blamed severe staff shortage and bad management. Two years previously a serving officer said Lewes Prison, “resembled a warzone” due to severe staff shortage and drug smuggling. It is not clear yet if the poisoning was a result of prisoner smuggling activity or malice from the guard staff.

The prison is designed to hold about 740 inmates but was found to be overcrowded  in 2016 with only 670 prisoners. Portions of the prison are dedicated to drug users and addicted person as well as prisoners experienced suicidal ideation.