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Prison officer arrested on drugs charges

A prison officer at HMP Holme House in Stockton has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

The 43-year-old, who has not been named, has been suspended while police investigate the allegations.

A spokesperson for Cleveland Police said: "A 43-year-old man was arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Police enquiries are continuing."

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Concern over prison privatisation

Acklington Prison is now under private control

North East politicians are expected to raise concerns in Parliament this week about security concerns at Acklington Prison in Northumberland. It was transferred to private ownership yesterday and is now managed by Sodexo Justice Services.

Up to 200 prison jobs are expected to go. Unions have accused the company of putting profits ahead of public safety, something it denies.

North East suspects held in 'inadequate' cells

Detainees awaiting court hearings are being held in "deplorable" or "poor" cells according to a HM Inspectorate of Prisons report. Four crown courts and 12 magistrates courts in Teesside, Durham and the Northumbria force area were visited.

Inspections found that women and children were being held too closely to men and religious needs were not being met. In some courts pregnant women had to sit on hard benches for several hours, while there was limited provision for those with disabilities or faith-related needs,

HM Courts and Tribunals Service said improvement work was being carried out to be completed by the end of the financial year.

Northumberland prison officers 'sickened and infuriated'

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith has told the Prisons minister that staff at HMP Northumberland are 'sickened and infuriated' by the rejection of their bid to keep the prison in the public sector.

Two private sector bids have gone through to the next stage of the tendering process.

Northumberland prison was formed last year after the merger of HMP Acklington and YOI Castington.

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Tyneside man back in prison 17 years after escape

A man who went on the run after being jailed for armed robbery nearly 30 years ago has been sent back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Alan Byrne carried out the robbery in June 1984, in which a man was killed and another seriously injured, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

After serving ten years of his sentence, Byrne was taken to Newcastle General Hospital for treatment where he escaped when two armed masked men threatened the prison staff and discharged a firearm.

Mr Byrne was then on the run for twelve years before being arrested for drugs offences in the Netherlands, where he was then charged and sent to prison in 2007.

Northumbria police began extradition proceedings in 2009, and he appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates Court on November 1st.

Female prison officer suspended at Holme House Prison

A female prison officer has been suspended over allegations she had an improper relationship with an inmate, police say.

The warder, 45, at Holme House Prison, Stockton, has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and has been bailed while further inquiries are carried out.

Detectives have reportedly examined documents and mobile phones recovered from the woman's home after her arrest four months ago.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: "A 45-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and has been bailed pending further inquiries."

Prison Service statement

The Prison Service has released a statement, after a report was released about the availability of drugs at Durham Prison.

"Tackling drugs is a priority for Durham and the misuse of drugs and prescribed medication will not be tolerated. Robust supply-reduction measures have been introduced and the consequences of misuse have been strengthened.

"These tough measures are in conjunction with effective clinical and non-clinical inventions focused on recovery."

– Prison Service spokesperson
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