Specialist Task Force formed by Government to tackle staff corruption in prisons estate

A dedicated specialist Task Force designed to tackle staff corruption in Britain’s jails has been announced by Justice Secretary David Gauke. The new Counter Corruption Unit will proactively pursue those suspected of corrupt activity in prison and probation services across England and Wales.

Working closely with law enforcement agencies, the appointed specialist staff will investigate and disrupt criminality and bring more prosecutions against those causing harm behind bars.

Crucially, the new Task Force will serve to protect the majority of prison and probation staff who are honest and hardworking. It will take action to counter the chaos and violence caused by the few who smuggle illicit items into jails or impede the ability to supervise offenders in the community effectively.

The Counter Corruption Unit comprises 29 specialist staff split into a national team and five regional teams. Within these teams are expert intelligence analysts who will examine threats to the organisation.

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. The Counter Corruption Unit underlines our determination to stamp out criminality in prison in all its forms. We’re closing the net on the individuals driving corruption, allowing the focus to be on safety and rehabilitation and, ultimately, keeping the public safer.”

Corruption can range from a member of staff having a relationship with a prisoner to bringing in drugs and contraband for individual prisoners or organised crime groups. The Counter Corruption Unit complements prison security teams that can already search staff, including with metal detectors and baggage scanners.

The new Counter Corruption Unit has four key aims to combat the threat:

*protect against corruption by building an open and resilient organisation

*prevent people from engaging in corruption, thereby 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 Her Majesty’s Prison Service to co-ordinate this work, reflecting the fact that corruption can extend beyond the prison walls (sometimes involving criminal kingpins orchestrating activity from their cells).

The new team accompanies the Government’s £70 million investment to improve safety, security and decency in prisons. This includes funding for new security scanners, improved searching techniques, phone-blocking technology and a financial crime unit tasked with identifying and seizing assets linked to crime behind bars.

This latest news has emerged against the backdrop of rising prison officer numbers, with more than 4,700 additional officers now recruited since October 2016 and staffing levels at their highest number since 2012.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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