Preston woman who works at HMP Garth in Leyland is arrested by anti-corruption detectives

A Preston woman who works at a prison in Leyland has been arrested by anti-corruption detectives.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 10:13 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 7:41 am
HMP Garth is a category B men's prison in Ulnes Walton, near Leyland and holds around 800 prisoners, most of whom have been convicted of violent and sexual crimes

The 24-year-old, who works as a prison officer at HMP Garth in Ulnes Walton, was arrested on Friday (July 30) by detectives from the Regional Prison Intelligence Unit - a branch of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit.

The woman has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and suspended from her job pending the outcome of the police investigation.

The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) said her arrest follows an investigation between detectives and prison officials into alleged corruption at the prison.

The 24-year-old, who works as a prison officer at HMP Garth in Ulnes Walton, was arrested on Friday (July 30) by detectives from the Regional Prison Intelligence Unit - a branch of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit

HMP Garth is a category B men's prison that holds around 800 prisoners, most of whom have been convicted of violent and sexual crimes.

A spokesman for the unit said: "On Friday, July 20, officers from the Regional Prison Intelligence Unit at the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit arrested a prison officer based at HMP Garth.

"Following enquiries the 24-year-old woman from Preston was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office. She has been taken to a police station for questioning."

The Prison Intelligence Unit is usually tasked with "disrupting and dismantling organised crime groups that cause significant harm across the region from inside prisons".

Detective Inspector Tanya Kitchen, who is leading the investigation, added: "We can confirm that following a joint investigation between the Prison Service and NWROCU, a member of staff from HMP Garth has been arrested.

"Corruption of any kind will not be tolerated and we continue to work closely in partnership to ensure anyone who breaks the rules is brought to justice.

"We would like to encourage members of staff working at prisons to report anyone they suspect are involved in corrupt activity so that we can act on it immediately and put offenders before the courts."

The Prison Service confirmed that the officer under investigation has been suspended from her duties at HMP Garth.

"A member of staff has been suspended pending a police investigation," said a spokesman.

Previous investigations into reports of misconduct at HMP Garth have led to two staff members being sent to prison themselves.

Alison Sharples, from Chorley, was found guilty of misconduct in a public office after jurors at her trial heard a syringe with traces of the inmate’s semen was found in her handbag.

And in September 2006, a prison officer who was having an affair with an inmate was jailed for smuggling pills and a mobile phone into the prison.

What is The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit?

Established in 2009, the unit is a collaboration between the six North West Police Forces in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria, Merseyside and North Wales.

It is made up of officers and staff from across the region who offer specialist skills and resources to tackle serious and organised crime in the region. 

The unit says its mission is to "identify, disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups causing the most harm to the North West".

"We do this by working with our partners to gather intelligence, cracking the most serious and organised crime networks and then seizing the assets of the criminals involved," the unit says on its website.

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