Seven jails 'have big corruption problem'

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The Independent Online

At least seven jails in England have "sizeable corruption problems", according to a leaked report. The investigation into the Prison Service, details of which first emerged in July, also reveals that more than 1,000 prison officers are believed to be corrupt.

The review was the result of an inquiry by the Metropolitan Police and the Prison Service's Professional Standards Unit (PSU). The year-long investigation concludes that while most staff operate in an honest way, a significant number of officers are involved in corrupt practices.

It says corruption ranges from bringing mobile phones and drugs into the jail to accepting cash payments from inmates for transfers to less secure prisons.

Large prisons, including ones in Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham, are singled out as being particularly bad, The Times reported.

The review states that corruption often starts with "inappropriate relationships" between prisoners and staff. It says there are nearly 600 such relationships, and that when intelligence is received about corrupt officers, often no action is taken.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "The Prison Service has a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption. This report does not acknowledge the steps the service has already taken to tackle corruption. We do not necessarily accept the findings ... and evidence from Prison Service key performance indicators is that there is no culture of corruption.

"We are determined to root out corruption wherever it is discovered. We are confident that the vast majority of Prison Service staff are honest, hard-working and professional."