14/08/2006

Prison officers suspended over corruption claims

Fourteen prison officers have been suspended from HMP Pentonville following allegations of corruption.

A spokesperson for the Prison Service confirmed that the prison officers had been suspended over allegations which concerned trafficking and "inappropriate relations" with prisoners.

The allegation will be investigated by senior governors from other prisons in the London area.

The spokesperson added: "If any alleged or otherwise suspected criminal activity is uncovered during the investigations, relevant information will be passed to the police."

Prison Service director general Phil Wheatley said that corruption would not be tolerated. He said: "Allegations of corruption will be investigated thoroughly and where evidence is found to support these allegations, the appropriate disciplinary action will be taken."

It was also announced that Pentonville will "briefly reduce" its maximum number of inmates as a result of the allegations.

Pentonville prison, which dates back to 1842, can hold up to 1,177 male prisoners.

The announcement of the suspension of the officers came after the publication of a report, which suggested that around 1,000 prison officers were believed to be involved in corruption.

The report, the result of a year-long investigation by the Metropolitan Police and the Prison Service's anti-corruption unit, was leaked to the BBC last month.

The report suggested that more than 500 prison staff had "inappropriate relationships" with inmates, but did find that most prison staff were honest.

(KMcA)

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