ONE hundred and 50 prisoners are being moved from Winchester Prison following the riot earlier this week.

Nineteen inmates escaped from their cells after breaking through the walls of their cells using utensil and crockery from the kitchen.

The 19 offenders have been moved but other inmates from the same wing will also be transferred to other jails in the south.

That will allow prison staff and surveyors to assess the damage and what alterations need to be made to make the Victorian jail, built in the 1840s, more secure.

That will cause disruption for the families of inmates most of whom will be from the Hampshire area.

A spokesman for the prison service said: "The 150 inmates are being transferred to other prisons including the 19. It is to allow us to make the necessary repairs.

"Investigations are ongoing. We are trying to work out what has happened and what repairs are needed. There is no timescale."

The spokesman declined to comment on the adverse impact on the families of inmates who may now have to visit their relatives in jails such as Exeter, Bristol or ones in London, except to say: "It is not a punishment. It is an operational necessity. It is better to move them than crowd up the other wings.

The spokesman declined to name the wing, although national newspapers have reported it is D wing.

The incident on Tuesday-Wednesday was brought under control by the National Tactical Response Group called in to restore order. The length of time of the riot has not been revealed.

The spokesman added: "During the incident there were no injuries to staff or prisoners. Pepper spray was used to restrain two of the prisoners.

Although no-one was injured four inmates were taken to hospital as a precaution.