An investigation is underway into what sparked a prison riot at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene on Thursday afternoon.

The incident took place in two units inside the facility. There were 45 inmates in the area but it’s believed only 19 took part in what corectional officers call a riot but the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services calls an inmate disturbance.

It started around 2 p.m. on Thursday just as guards were getting ready to lock up inmates for the afternoon. Chris Jackel, a Central North Correctional Centre officer and president of Local 369, was on duty as a guard at the time.

“They were breaking all sorts of things, using them as weapons, barricaded in the entry doors to the wings, making weapons with whatever things they had,” says Jackel.

Jackel says a negotiator was brought in to try and talk the inmates into a peaceful end to the situation, three hours later the intuitions crisis intervention team – a tactical unit – was deployed. Jackel says they shot pepper spray into the unit and the officers went in.

“With a discipline show of force they were able to quell the riot in, corral all 45 inmates,” adds Jackel.  

Jackel says the inmates spread shampoo and soap on the floors to make the area slippery. The ministry says there have been no reports of injuries to staff or inmates.

It’s not known for sure what sparked the riot, but Jackel says he heard it could have been related to a recent assault involving two inmates.

In an email to CTV News, Greg Flood with Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says “the ministry has currently launched an internal investigation into the matter, and is making minor repairs to the living units. Inmates involved in the incident will be placed on misconduct; some inmates have been relocated to another facility as well."