Government sets up prisons corruption taskforce

7 May 19

A taskforce has been set up aimed at “closing the net” on corruption in prisons, the justice secretary has announced.

Prison staff who cause “chaos and violence” by smuggling illicit materials will be targeted by the taskforce, which is made up of 29 specialist staff split across five regional teams.

Corruption in the UK prison system can involve corrupt staff having bringing contraband into prisons or even having relationships with prisoners, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The Counter Corruption Unit, which began work earlier this month, will crack down on these staff members who create “chaos and violence” in the prison system, the ministry said.

Justice secretary David Gauke said: “Our prison staff are overwhelmingly dedicated and honest and do their best to instil safety and order in our jails.

“We have seen from recent criminal prosecutions, however, that a small minority continue to engage in corrupt behaviour in our prisons – damaging both the integrity of the system and their profession.

“This unit underlines our determination to stamp out criminality in prison in all its forms and will make sure we are closing the net on the individuals driving this, allowing the focus to be on safety and rehabilitation and ultimately keeping the public safer.”

The Counter Corruption Unit has four aims:

  • protect against corruption by building an open and resilient organisation
  • prevent people from engaging in corruption, strengthening professional integrity
  • pursue and punish those involved in corruption
  • prepare prisons to minimise the impact of corruption where it does occur.

The police will be working with HM Prison Service to co-ordinate this work.

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “Anyone who lives or works in prison knows that corrupting a member of staff is one of the most effective ways to get drugs in.

“But turning suspicion into proof and prosecution takes time and specialist input, so it is good to see this unit set up.”

Last week, the Public Accounts Committee found that probation reforms have been costly and left the service in a worse position than before.

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