TENSION in Whitehead had been building up for some time, with the CSD admitting there was a breakdown of control and an aid worker saying she and her colleagues had experienced increasing difficulties carrying out their work. Tension was particularly high in the camp's Section 7, where yesterday's raid was carried out, after weeks of increasing resistance to camp rules as part of the protests against repatriation, according to the Commissioner of Correctional Services, Eric McCosh. Prison officers were prevented from carrying out routine searches - they check at least one of the eight sections every week - and emergency fire exits were blocked, he said. Drills could be heard at 2 am or 3 am, with whistles blowing and people running around the section, he said. Many boat people stayed up all night and slept during the day. ''We have seen a steady escalation in the last few weeks of problems for us in the management and control of the centre,'' Mr McCosh said. There was no violence at any time, but Mr McCosh said the fire danger was an extreme worry. The boat people stole oil from the kitchen and made home-made wine, both of which were flammable, he said. Mr McCosh said the raid was organised to defuse the tension, and one charity worker said she was not surprised by the operation. ''There has been trouble brewing for a long time,'' she said. ''Some of our people have had trouble carrying out their normal work because the tense situation has made it all but impossible to see some of the inmates.'' She said some regulars they dealt with at Whitehead had not been seen for several weeks because they were scared to come into the open where they might be taken away and forcibly repatriated. Aid workers at Whitehead were prevented from entering the camp yesterday when they arrived to begin work as usual, because of the operation. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees chief of mission Jahanshah Assadi said only two of his senior staff were allowed access to the camp. Ironically, Section 7 was a model section four years ago when it was shown to the media as an example of how order had been restored to Whitehead after months of violence.