Prison officers’ social media accounts are being vetted to root out staff at risk of corruption – after the number of guards with connections to criminals soared 89% in three years.
Among them, one of them had his lover’s mobile number tattooed on the inside of his thigh, as well as others who sent explicit photos and even had sex behind the scenes. bars.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that five men and 31 women prison officers have been sacked for misconduct in the past three years.
And among them are some of the 18 guards at HMP Berwyn in Wrexham, who have been dismissed since 2017 for illicit dealings.
A source told MailOnline: ‘Management is determined to weed out corrupt officers and has started re-vetting prison staff every 10 years.’
“They are also piloting social media checks for certain high-risk roles such as corrections officers.”
The national police database check is also in addition to the criminal record checks already carried out.
Mark Fairhurst, national chairman of the Prison Officers Association, told MailOnline: ‘We will work tirelessly with the employer to rid the service of corrupt personnel.
“These examples highlight the inadequate staff training that puts us all at risk. Too often, vulnerable recruits who lack life experience are conditioned by experienced criminals who exploit their weaknesses.
Prison officer, Ayshea Gunn with inmate Khuram Razaq in the cells of HMP Berwyn, Britain’s largest prison
Emily Watson, left, was jailed for a year after performing a sex act on inmate John McGee
“We would like to see a stronger training program, more competitive compensation and strict control procedures that help prevent corruption.
“The vast majority of prison officers are decent, honest and hardworking individuals who bring honor to service and these examples should not detract from a workforce that continues to serve the public with integrity and bravery.”
It is feared that the sharp increase is due to the current recruitment process which has people interviewing for jobs on Zoom, the Telegraph reported.
There has also been a diversity drive which has seen the number of female prison staff increase by almost 30% to 15,000 in the system.
The wife of Victoria Laithwaite, 47, was caught sending prisoner James Chalmers, 30, messages suggesting a relationship between the pair as he was punched.
She was working as a safer custody and equalities officer when the texts were discovered on a mobile phone found inside the prisoner’s cell at HMP Onley.
Ayshea Gunn handcuffed on her way to jail, leaving court after finding out she had an affair with an inmate
Former prison guard Jennifer Gavan, left, was jailed for eight months after smuggling a cellphone into the prison for her lover Alex Coxon, right. She sent intimate messages and photos to Coxon on Snapchat
A court heard in one exchange she said ‘I thought you abandoned me’ while in another she wrote: ‘I was thinking about all kinds of things baby’.
A photograph of Laithwaite was also found taped to the phone discovered inside Chalmers’ cell.
The sentencing judge told Laithwaite her offense was compounded by her “serious breach of trust” in her role as prison warden – which included the responsibility of ensuring support for the most vulnerable inmates.
Her defense lawyer said she was aware she had “destroyed her life” and put her family “in hell” because of her “foolishness”.
A prison guard who had an inmate’s baby following a year-long secret fling was jailed for nearly two years in November 2022.
Corinne Redhead, 29, initially denied misconduct until police found criminal Robert O’Connor named as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
Jailed for 25 months, Ms Redhead was told by Judge Michael Simon: ‘You have totally failed in your professional duty.’
Victoria Laithwaite (pictured), 47, who was working as Safer Custody and Equalities Officer at HMP Onley when she texted and had an ‘intimate affair’ with an inmate, was jailed for eight months
Prison officer Ayshea Gunn, left, was jailed for a year at Mold Crown Court in 2019 after having an affair with dangerous criminal Khuram Razaq, right, at HMP Berwyn in North Wales
The prison warden entered into a clandestine relationship with Mr O’Connor, who was serving a ten-year sentence, while working at Mount Prison in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire – a men’s prison.
She was already six months pregnant when officers were tipped off and raided Mr O’Connor’s cell in January 2019, where they found a mobile phone hidden in the U-bend of his prison toilet.
The phone contained messages between the two – including 100 texts exchanged in just 72 hours – some of which were sexual in nature.
Among the guards guilty of forming relationships with prisoners at HMP Berwyn were Jennifer Gavan, 27, Ayshea Gunn, 27, and Emily Watson, 26.
Most recently, Gavan was jailed for eight months in December following her relationship with prisoner Alex Coxon, 25.
She had sent intimate photos of herself to prisoner Coxon on Snapchat and kissed him during the relationship between April and July 2020.
She also smuggled a cell phone behind bars for Coxon.
Gavan, of Llay, Wrexham, pleaded guilty to misconduct in public at Mold Crown Court after accepting £150 to bring in the mobile phone.
The relationship came just a year after her colleague Ayshea Gunn, 27, had an affair with ‘dangerous’ inmate Khuram Razaq, 29.
A search of Gunn’s bedroom revealed snaps of the couple kissing and hugging, as well as cellphone photos taken in his cell. She was then jailed for a year at the Mold Crown Court in 2019.
Officer Emily Watson, 26, was jailed for a year in April 2019 by the same court for committing a sexual act on an inmate in her cell.
Since Watson spent so much time with John McGee in prison, staff quickly became suspicious and launched an investigation.
Mold Crown Court heard they had been alone together in her cell three times when she performed a sex act on him twice and had sex once.
Some 31 female officers in England and Wales have been dismissed for inappropriate relationships since 2019, according to Department of Justice statistics.
Staff at the prison, which opened in 2017, had to undergo mandatory new training in order to address these issues at the 2,100-bed prison.
The prison, previously dubbed ‘the most comfortable prison in the UK’ by an MP, gives prisoners access to a wide range of education and training services, vocational qualifications, access to a full-size gym, a weight and fitness room and outdoor courts, and several methods of being able to communicate with friends and family in the outside world.
A Department of Justice spokesman told MailOnline: ‘The vast majority of prison officers and other staff carry out their duties to the high standards which the public rightly expects, but the small minority that fails to meet these standards is held accountable.”