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Police teams work with prison community

21 Dec 2016 11:21 AM

Police teams work with prison community [View Full Size]

Police and prison staff are working together to improve support to the prison community and visitors to HMP Northumberland.

The prison based in Acklington in Northumberland, run by Sodexo, sees large numbers of visitors on an almost daily basis coming onto the site and is also a major employer in the area. Neighbourhood police officers have built a strong relationship with the prison over several years and regularly come to the facility to work with staff and deal with any issues arising.

Police and prison staff are now working together more closely to engage with the whole prison community.

Earlier this month (between Monday 5, and Sunday 11, December) police and HMP Northumberland carried out a joint week of action. Neighbourhood officers staffed a mobile police station outside the prison to greet prison visitors offering support and information and worked alongside prison staff and the Northumberland Domestic Abuse Service to provide crime prevention and safety advice.

Chief Inspector Helena Barron, from Northumbria Police said: "We have built on an already strong foundation with HMP Northumberland and have carried out a number of initiatives to help the whole prison community, including inmates, visitors and prison staff to continue to develop the best working relationships we can.

"Our neighbourhood police officers spoke to visitors to offer practical advice on what items they could take into the prison for their friends and families and to remind them what items were prohibited. Our officers were also available to discuss issues such as domestic abuse and gave guidance and help to anyone who may be a victim of this in our force area."

As part of the week of action Motor Patrols units also carried out a high profile presence around the prison supporting the aim of making the prison a safe environment for both prisoners and visitors alike. As a result of the activity in and around the prison, 27 vehicles were stopped, over 30 drivers and passengers spoken to with two people arrested on suspicion of drugs offences and two vehicles uplifted by officers for having no insurance.

Tony Simpson, HMP Northumberland Director, said: “Our priority is to run a safe and secure prison, and reduce reoffending. Healthy family contact as part of a range of rehabilitation activity will always improve a prisoner’s chances of successfully reintegrating back into society upon release, so it’s important we work with the police to support visitors as much as possible.”

In January 2017 a new Neighbourhood officer will be dedicated to supporting the prison and surrounding communities within Northumberland. PC Vicky Kelly will undertake the role. She said: "I'm looking forward to taking up this new role and getting to know the prison staff and finding out how we can provide the best support to the prison community. HMP Northumberland is a significant part of our community and there is also a need to provide a liaison role with local residents and the prison, which I will also be providing."

To contact Northumbria Police to report a crime call 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Pictured, Ch Insp Helena Barron and Tony Simpson, HMP Northumberland Director at the prison