Concern as knife missing in prison

HMP Northumberland.
HMP Northumberland.

A union has raised ‘deep concerns’ after it was reported that a Stanley knife went missing at HMP Northumberland.

Napo, the Union representing probation workers, believes the knife went missing two weeks ago and also said prisoners are reported to be regularly wearing ‘civilian clothing’ making it difficult to differentiate between them and visitors. They added that despite the knife going missing no ‘lock-down’ of the prison was ordered.

Mike Quinn, vice-chairman for the Northumbria branch of Napo said: “The report of a knife potentially in the hands of a prisoner is deeply concerning.

“If true, it just confirms the dire state of the prison, and has major safety implications for staff, visitors and prisoners.

“We would repeat calls made last week for an immediate inspection of the prison.

“It concerns us as a trade union that prison officers continue to be exposed to such risks day in day out.

“It can be no coincidence that recently problems have followed a widespread loss of staff at HMP Northumberland.

“While Sodexo attempt to distance themselves from these voluntary redundancies, they were undoubtedly as a direct result of them winning the contract to run the prison.”

Probation staff were in London yesterday at a lobby of Parliament, protesting against the privatisation of the probation service.

They were also planning on speaking to MP Sir Alan Beith about their concerns. Speaking yesterday Mike added: “We’ll also be asking him to do everything in his power to halt the privatisation of the Probation Service, which will potentially end up in the hands of Sodexo too.”

A Sodexo spokeswoman said: “All the appropriate security procedures were followed – to suggest otherwise is simply untrue. It is also incorrect to suggest that prisoners wear civilian clothes for visits. During visits prisoners are required to wear prison uniform and wear ID at all time.”