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On 16th December 2016, up to 600 inmates took control of four wings in HMP Birmingham, causing an estimated three million pounds of damage, in what has been described as 'the worst riot since Strangeways.'

It all started when a prisoner jumped onto safety netting and after an officer tried to negotiate, another inmate snapped his keychain off. Because he was a senior officer, his keys could access many parts of the prison. The incident lasted for more than twelve hours and tornado teams had to be deployed to regain control of the jail, and hold N1 gate where a standoff was developing between staff and inmates. A prison officer, who asked to remain anonymous, told us that, 'if they'd have got through there, (N1 gate) we could have lost control of the whole jail.'

In the wake of the riot, the government conducted an investigation which it then refused to release on security grounds. We managed to obtain a copy of parts of the report, which stated that although there were sufficent staff in HMP Birmingham on the day, the riot could and should have been prevented, and that 'staff were being worn down by chronic staffing shortages over the previous year and prisoners were in effect policing themselves for much of the time.'

This Exposure documentary looks in depth at the riot at HMP Birmingham, featuring interviews with senior figures in the justice system and footage taken by prisoners on illegal mobile phones, investigating the state of our prisons, asking how the riot could have happened.

Violence, described by another officer as 'daily' and 'on every level' is often attributed to the high levels of drug taking and debt. The videos shot by inmates show how some become spice pigs to test a new batch of drugs, and how others are humiliated and assaulted because they are so desperate for their next hit.

Other troubling aspects of the prison system are also investigated, we speak with a former prison officer, Bradley Newton who was dismissed for medical inefficency after being thrown down the stairs by a known violent prisoner. We also investigate the case of Osvaldas Pagirys, an 18 year old who was arrested for stealing a bag of sweets and who committed suicide in his cell at HMP Wandsworth. His cell alarm had been ringing for 37 minutes but was unanswered by officers on the wing who appeared to be watching television.

Prisons are overcrowded, but there are 3000 prisoners still inside jail, despite having served their tarrifs. They are incarcerated on indeterminate sentences, which means they stay in jail until they can actively prove to the Parole Board that they are no longer a threat. We show how this has trapped those with low IQs, as they are unable to pass the necessary courses for release, through the experience of Daniel Sayce. He has served 11 years behind bars, despite a tariff of only 14 and a half months.

So does the justice system have a grip on prisons? According to