Feltham guards 'laid bets on fights in cells'

An investigation has begun into claims that prison officers at a young offenders' institution put black and white youths in the same cell and then placed bets on when they would start fighting.

An investigation has begun into claims that prison officers at a young offenders' institution put black and white youths in the same cell and then placed bets on when they would start fighting.

Guards at Feltham Young Offender Institution - already being investigated over the racist murder of an inmate by his cell companion - are also said to have placed "unsuitable" inmates together, such as someone with a history as a victim of sexual abuse and another on remand for sex charges, according to reports in The Sun newspaper.

A "Feltham insider" told the newspaper that a handful of officers had allegedly been involved in the game, which was called "Gladiators" or "Colosseum". Senior members of the Prison Officers' Association (POA) are thought to have reported the incidents to the Prison Service after they came to their attention a month ago.

Steve Gillan, vice-president of the POA, said: "As soon as we heard of the allegations we acted like a responsible trade union and contacted the Prison Service. We will reserve our judgement until the outcome of the investigation. But if there is any truth in the allegations - and they are just rumours at the moment - we could not possibly defend such actions by prison officers."

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "The Prison Service has recently been made aware of similar allegations. The information has been passed to the police inquiry team and we have also commissioned an internal investigation."

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman confirmed that the Metropolitan Police had received details of the allegations and that an initial assessment was being undertaken by officers from the specialist crime directorate.

A public inquiry began this week into the death of a young Asian prisoner killed by a known racist after he was made to share a cell with him at Feltham. Zahid Mubarek, 19, was beaten to death with a table leg by Robert Stewart in March 2000, just hours before Mubarek was due to be released. Stewart was jailed for life for his murder in October 2001.

The Prison Service launched a covert intelligence gathering operation after hearing of the latest allegations, which led to a witness coming forward with "specific" details of the case this week.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral