Prison Officer At HMP Northumberland Suspended

A police investigation's under way and a prison officer based at HMP Northumberland has been suspended after allegedly being found drunk at work on Christmas Day.

The private firm which runs the jail, Sodexo Justice Services, only gave brief details about the "incident'', as police were making inquiries.

It was believed the investigation would look at any possible breach of legislation surrounding the management of offenders and alleged use of alcohol.

A Sodexo Justice Services spokesman said:
"An employee at HMP Northumberland has been suspended following an incident on Christmas Day.

It would be inappropriate to comment further while a police investigation is under way.''

A Northumbria Police spokesman said:
"We are aware of the incident and we will be working with staff at HMP Northumberland to carry out inquiries.''

Sodexo took over the prison in December 2013 and union officials criticised job cuts when disorder among inmates broke out at the Category C prison in March.

Andrew Neilson, campaigns director for the Howard League for Penal Reform, said job losses may be causing stress to remaining staff.

He said:
"We are concerned about the situation at HMP Northumberland, and staff shortages may be putting individuals under pressure.

There is no evidence at this stage that has contributed to this incident but, clearly, it adds to the many problems that seem to be affecting the prison at this particular time.'' 

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