MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan: 'I will do all I can to support prison staff'
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said she will do all she can to support staff at HMP Northumberland and try to improve the issues they face, following last night's explosive BBC Panorama episode.
The Conservative MP has said the allegations made during the shocking and disturbing exposé of life on the inside at the Acklington-based jail were 'extremely serious'.
Undercover reporter Joe Fenton spent time at the Category C adult unit 'working' as a prison custody officer for two months. The programme showed numerous problems at the prison - run by Sodexo Justice Services - including inmates high on drugs, major lapses in security and staff struggling to cope.
The Ministry of Justice has launched an investigation. After the show, Anne-Marie said: "I have long-held concerns about safety and drug use at HMP Northumberland, which I have raised in Parliament since I was elected Berwick MP in 2015 and held an entire debate on.
"I took the Prisons' Minister to HMP Northumberland to see for himself the problems faced there. I was pleased pressure from me and other colleagues resulted in the Ministry of Justice awarding funding for an additional 2,500 prison officers across England and Wales, which will be helpful in the future, but clearly the safety of staff and inmates is of paramount importance and I will be extremely interested to know the outcome of the Government’s investigation into these allegations.
"I will continue to do all I can to support the staff of HMP Northumberland and to work towards improving the long-standing issues they face.”
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, who represents Labour, has urged the Government to consider terminating Sodexo's contract and put the prison into special measures.
Over the last few years, the prison has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Last summer, a report published by the Independent Monitoring Board raised a number of issues about the prison, listing substance misuse as its most serious area of concern. But the report did praise aspects of the jail and said that welcome and encouraging progress had been made on safety.
The document was released a month after the Gazette reported staff concerns about safety at the prison, with one guard fearing it would only be a matter of time before someone was killed.