Inquiry launched into prison strip-search of woman

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The Independent Online
An inquiry was launched yesterday after a woman prisoner was strip-searched by male prison officers after she threatened to kill herself, the Prison Service said.

The search, at Highpoint Prison, near Haverhill in Suffolk, was in contravention of Home Office policy which states that strip-searches should be carried out by officers the same sex as the inmate. The four officers believed to have taken part in the search have not been dismissed or suspended while the inquiry, headed by a governor from another prison and expected to take at least a week, is completed. The search took place on the evening of 2 June and revealed a small strip of metal which officers believed could have been used as a weapon.

The investigation comes as it was announced that regular criminal checks may be introduced on staff at a secure mental hospital after it was discovered that a nurse carried on working with dangerous patients for two years after being convicted of importing pornography. William Baird was dismissed from Ashworth special hospital, Merseyside, whose most infamous inmate is the Moors murderer Ian Brady, two weeks ago. An immediate inquiry into the Personality Disorder Unit was ordered in February after allegations of paedophilia came to light along with claims that pornography, drugs and alcohol were widely available. The chief executive, a senior psychiatrist and two nurses were suspended. Neither the courts nor the police had informed hospital authorities about Mr Baird, who was suspended at the time on another matter.