Probe into prisoner swap during jail inspections

An investigation has been launched after it emerged that inmates were transferred between two prisons immediately before official inspections were due to start, the Ministry of Justice said today.

Prisoners were moved between Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons in London during inspections in May and June.



Justice Secretary Jack Straw commissioned the investigation after concerns were raised by the chief inspector of prisons, Dame Anne Owers.



He said it was "neither policy nor acceptable practice temporarily to move prisoners during inspections".



The inquiry will look at who suggested and approved the transfers, why, and how many prisoners were involved.



Mr Straw said: "Phil Wheatley, the director general of the National Offender Management Service, has commissioned a formal investigation into information brought to us by Dame Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons, concerning the temporary transfer of prisoners in anticipation of HMCIP inspections of two prisons.



"The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Stephen Shaw, has also drawn our attention to the transfers.



"The Chief Inspector will make her own judgements in her inspection reports on the prisons, due for release within the next six weeks, but it is neither policy nor acceptable practice temporarily to move prisoners during inspections.



"The terms of reference for the investigation are:



"To investigate the circumstances surrounding the temporary transfer of a number of prisoners between HMPs Pentonville and Wandsworth immediately prior to the HMCIP inspections of each prison.



"In particular, I ask you to examine: who proposed and authorised the transfers; the rationale for the transfers; and the circumstances of the actual transfers themselves and whether those transfers took place in line with policy requirements relating to the well-being of prisoners."



The investigation is expected to be completed within a month.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent