Shocking new video footage has emerged showing prisoners partying in a cell rave and apparently high on drink and drugs at HMP Northumberland.
And the latest sorry episode at the troubled privately-run jail has led to a plea for it to be returned to State control, with an increase in officers.
The video, filmed on what appears to be a mobile phone, shows one inmate chopping up lines of white powder, which looks like cocaine.
At one stage, the camera focuses on one wide-eyed prisoner, who says: ‘This stuff’s not working’, prompting laughter from his fellow prisoners.
With dance music blaring, the criminals cheer and pump their fists to the beat and swig out of a plastic bottle.
There is not a prison officer in sight during the party, which looks more akin to a festival than a prison.
Sodexo Justice Services, which has operated the prison since the end of 2013, says it has taken appropriate action since the incident and is working to stop illicit substances and mobile phones from being smuggled into the jail.
It isn’t the first time that the Category C unit has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the last few years.
Local councillor Scott Dickinson has called for action, including terminating Sodexo’s 15-year contract.
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said everything possible must be done to support the jail’s staff.
Recently, the Government reversed cuts to prison staffing numbers, with plans to recruit 2,500 officers.
The prison is in the Druridge Bay ward of Coun Dickinson, who said: “One option, surely, is to terminate Sodexo’s contract and return the prison to being State-run, so it can take advantage of the Government’s plans for additional prison officers.
“There have been so many incidents since Sodexo took over. The video is disturbing to the local community and I have concerns for the staff.”
Mrs Trevelyan is ‘appalled’ by the video and concerned that prisoners have ‘undue access to phones and illegal substances’.
She added: “I have spoken to the Prisons’ Minister about reintroducing the continuous use of sniffer dogs within the prison, as its footprint is vast and difficult for staff to patrol without that resource.
“I work with the prison management team to offer my support to them and their staff who work in difficult conditions. We must do all we can to support them and to ensure prison life is orderly and focused on rehabilitation.”
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has also raised his concerns about the ‘powder keg’ prison.
A HMP Northumberland spokesman said: “The use of mobile phones, drugs and other illicit items is a challenge across the whole prison estate and staff at HMP Northumberland work very hard to successfully prevent these items getting into the prison.
“We will be introducing new technology to help combat this problem.”