Prison Staff Caught Smuggling – Up 58%

The number of prison staff caught smuggling contraband items into jails in England and Wales has increased 58% since 2012, it has been reported.

More than 340 people have faced either disciplinary or judicial proceedings for bringing drugs, mobile phones or other banned items into prisons in the last six years, according to The Observer.

The paper’s data, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act from the Ministry of Justice, showed that the year with the highest number of staff caught was 2017, where the figure stood at 71. This compares to 45 in 2012.

Centre for Social Justice director Andy Cook told The Observer the figures were “deeply concerning” and said ministers needed to “get a grip”.

He added: “Drugs are at the heart of this, fuelling violence, suicide and completely undermining the likelihood that prisoners will be able to turn their lives around.”

Drugs were found 35 times a day in prisons in England and Wales on average last year, while the number of finds has trebled since 2014, the paper said.

Corrupt Prison Officer Earned 40K From Stories

venables

A News of the World reporter is facing jail after becoming the first journalist to be found guilty of paying a corrupt official for stories in the wake of Operation Elveden, the high-profile police investigation into newspapers – and it can only now be reported that a corrupt prison officer was also convicted earlier in the week.

The case revolved around the activities of prison officer Scott Chapman, 42, who made £40,000 from selling tips to various newspapers about James Bulger killer Jon Venables after he was sent back to prison in 2010 for child porn offences.

The NotW journalist, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted on Wednesday of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office in relation to two stories following the trial at the Old Bailey.

Chapman and his ex-partner Lynn Gaffney, 40, were also convicted of misconduct in a public office, it can now be reported.

But co-defendant Daily Star Sunday reporter Tom Savage, who only knew Chapman as the anonymous source Adam, was cleared of wrong-doing.

In a courtroom packed with journalists and supporters, there were cheers and shouts of “yes” as Savage, 37, was found not guilty, followed by stunned silence as the jury foreman read out the verdict on the second reporter.

Chapman and the NotW reporter were given conditional bail until they are sentenced by judge Charles Wide on a date to be fixed.

The judge warned Chapman that he should expect his jail term to be counted in years, rather than months.

He told the NotW reporter he was conscious that the conviction was on the basis of just two of the stories that Chapman sold but he warned the journalist to be “under no illusions”.

To date, despite the conviction of public officers, the NotW journalist is the first to be found guilty of paying corrupt officials since police launched its multimillion-pound investigation into newspapers in 2011.

During the trial, the court heard that Chapman first contacted the Sun in 2010 after Venables was sent back to jail.

He went on to sell stories to a host of other newspapers including the NotW and the Daily Star Sunday, using Gaffney’s bank account to channel payments in exchange for a third cut of his earnings.

The tabloids then published a string of articles about Venables’ life behind bars which ranged from his efforts to lose weight to his love of Harry Potter books.

A security chief from the prison where he worked told the court that Chapman’s leaks had a “catastrophic” effect on the operation of the prison and left Venables feeling “very suspicious” of staff charged with his care.

But under cross-examination, it emerged that she had formed that view from secret talks with Venables in her search for the source.

The fact that she did not file a report on any of the meetings was a “serious breach of duty”, according to the defence.

In his evidence, Chapman said he first contacted the Sun about Venables because he was unhappy about the way he was given special treatment and then turned to other newspapers in an attempt to stop his Sun contact “pestering” him.

He told jurors he would send images of his prison ID card and a wage slip as confirmation to journalists, although there was no evidence he sent it to Savage.

But prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC queried the public interest of stories he described as “drivel” and “tittle tattle”, and asked Chapman: “Is it important that Jon Venables likes Harry Potter?”

In turn, Savage denied knowing the identity of his source, saying he used Chapman’s knowledge of Venables’ new name as a codeword to check his credibility.

He told the court it never occurred to him that he was in fact a serving prison officer but, if he had known, it would not have mattered “in the slightest”.

The NotW journalist also denied knowing who Chapman was or receiving images of his ID card and wage slip, despite an email to a NotW boss which suggested the opposite.

The defendant went on to insist that it was in the public interest that the newspaper exposed Venables’ “comfortable” lifestyle behind bars.

The journalist said: “This was a public interest story we were writing about Jon Venables, who abducted a two-year-old from a shopping centre, tortured and murdered him.

“He had been taken in by the Prison Service, given millions of pounds for a new identity, then repeat-offended and the Prison Service deal with it by making his life as comfortable as possible.”

Chapman, 42, and Gaffney, 40, of Corby, Northamptonshire, denied misconduct in a public office. Savage, 37, from south London, and the NotW reporter denied conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

For legal reasons, the convictions on Tuesday could not be reported until today.

ends

Under their noses? 52kg of Cocaine Nicked From Police HQ!

cocaine

A French police officer is facing preliminary charges relating to the disappearance of 116lb (52.6kg) of cocaine from Paris police headquarters’ evidence room.

Prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said the unidentified anti-narcotics officer faces charges including transport, possession and sale of narcotics and covering up a drug ring.

The cocaine has not been found. It had been held in a locked room at the Paris police headquarters, close to Notre Dame Cathedral, and was reported missing on July 31.

The suspect has denied the charges, according to French press reports. They said the cocaine has an estimated street value of 2 million euros (£1.6 million).

Two corrupt cops sacked

notts-police

Two Nottinghamshire police officers have been sacked after allowing a meeting between a prisoner and his girlfriend while he was being questioned.

The force said the officers had “facilitated a meeting between a prisoner and his girlfriend while questioning him about further crimes, and then lied about their actions”.

The men, aged 52 and 54, who worked at Nottingham’s Bridewell station, were dismissed for gross misconduct.

Both officers subsequently lodged an appeal against their dismissal, but the original decision has now been upheld.

In a statement confirming the outcome of the appeal, Nottinghamshire Police said: “An internal investigation was launched after questions were raised about unauthorised contact between the prisoner and his partner.

“Both officers admitted breaching standards of honesty and integrity and were also found to have committed discreditable conduct.”

Two Thieving Cops face Jail

Det Sgt Phillips (L), Det Con Evans (R)
Det Sgt Phillips (L), Det Con Evans (R)

Two senior policemen from Neath in South Wales are facing jail after being caught stealing in a sting operation at a fake “crime scene” – by their own colleagues.

Det Sgt Stephen Phillips and Det Con Jason Evans were filmed on secret cameras taking cash and biro pens planted in the sting house.

A court heard how Phillips, 45, was caught taking £250 when he was called to a house under criminal investigation – not realising it was a set-up by other police officers.

Evans, 44, was also videoed pocketing two pens while he carried out the investigation using a search warrant at the same time.

The court heard the officers thought they were investigating a burglary, but were set up as part of “trust exercise” by suspicious police chiefs.

A team of officers including Evans and Phillips were sent to the house which was filled with “evidence” including Viagra, bags, mobile phones, watches and £21,647 of cash.

But Phillips and Evans did not realise the property had been fitted with hidden cameras and covert microphones – and the woman posing as a resident was an undercover detective.

The pair – who are suspended by South Wales Police – were warned they faced custody after admitting theft.

Judge Bodfan Jenkins told them: “There can be few examples of a graver breach of trust.

“This is a gross breach of trust in relation to the force and what the public expect from the police.

“It’s not about the cost, it’s about the breach of trust and at first blush it appears to me that this is a custody case.”

The officers, who are based in Neath, were part of a team investigating organised crime.

The pair were investigated by South Wales Police’s corruption unit for theft and misconduct.

Cardiff magistrates court heard how the force decided to carry out an “intelligence led integrity test” on the pair.

They pretended they were asked by Greater Manchester Police to investigate a property allegedly linked to a series of burglaries.

Prosecutor David Roberts said: “Phillips was filmed putting his hand inside a coat pocket and finding £240.

“He removes his hand and leaves the scene – but then returns 20 seconds later when he removes the cash and places it in his pocket.”

Phillips also took £10 from a bedside table. But he did not realise all the notes had been marked with invisible ink and the serial numbers recorded.

Evans was filmed going into the bedroom and taking two pens during the raid in March this year.

The pair then drove up the M5 to meet plain clothes officers from Greater Manchester Police at a service station.

While waiting for the meet Phillips spent £60 of the money on a Monopoly-themed gambling machine.

As they drove back to South Wales they were pulled over by a marked police car and arrested by members of their force’s Professional Standards department.

The court heard Phillips, of Skewen, Neath, claimed he was going to return the money to the woman who lived at the house.

Evans, of Cilfrew, Neath, admitted stealing the pens while he was interviewed under caution.

The pair both pleaded guilty to theft. They were given unconditional bail while pre-sentence reports are prepared.

Phillips and Evans have 26 and 19 years service to their names respectively, and will face misconduct proceedings in due course according to South Wales Police.

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Police officers take a vow to serve the public and uphold the law with fairness, integrity and impartiality. Any who fall short of those standards or who abuse their position, will face disciplinary action, the prospect of criminal prosecution and dismissal.

“As soon as the officers were suspected of acting improperly, an investigation, supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was launched which culminated in the dedicated integrity test and their subsequent arrest and suspension.”

“I want to reassure the public that we take this type of behaviour very seriously and continue to work hard to root out any corrupt officers and staff.”

Corrupt ‘Fit-Up’ Cop Jailed

Daniel-Withnell

A former police officer who accepted a bribe to plant a shotgun in a bid to frame a man has been jailed for four years, police said.

Daniel Withnell, 31, was approached by Claire Smethurst to put the weapon in the man’s car for £19,000 between September 30 and October 30 last year.

He admitted two counts of misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing and was today jailed at Manchester Crown Court.

Withnell, of Cranark Close in Bolton, also sent a fake tip-off by text to an officer on March 16, in which he claimed a hitman had been offered money to kill him.

He also used his position to access the force’s database to research a money laundering investigation, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

Smethurst, 48, of Westhoughton, Bolton, was found guilty of of perverting the course and was given a 15 month suspended sentence for her role in the plot at the same court on October 9, the force added.

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: “The conduct of former DC Daniel Withnell fell well short of what is expected of a police officer.

“Police officers, staff and the communities of Greater Manchester would be appalled by his actions, which detract from the hard work that our officers and staff do on a daily basis.

“GMP expects the very highest standards of all its officers and staff. They should be honest and act with integrity and should not compromise or abuse their position.

“As soon as this conduct came to light, the Professional Standards Branch carried out a thorough investigation, supervised by the IPCC and as a result Mr Withnell has been convicted of two counts of misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice and Ms Smethurst has been convicted of perverting the course of justice.”

Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said Withnell faced a dangerous time in jail.

“Going to jail as a former cop is dangerous at any time, but going to jail as a former cop jailed for trying to fit up an innocent man and send him to jail marks Withnell out as a man with a price on his head.

“Withnell is the worst kind of corrupt cop, a loathsome individual who was willing to sacrifice the freedom of an innocent man in exchange for cash – a despicable low life whose past criminal arrests and convictions should now be the subject of review lest he has done this before – and got away with it.”

Corrupt cop jailed

James_bowes

A former police sergeant has been jailed for 10 months for trying to sell a story about celebrity Katie Price’s daughter to the News of the World.

James Bowes contacted the now defunct Sunday tabloid newspaper and told a journalist that police child protection officers had gone to the home of Price’s former husband Peter Andre in Brighton.

This followed a report that the couple’s daughter, Princess Tiaamii, then aged two, had been injured in 2010, the Old Bailey heard.

The team found no untoward injuries to the child and the matter was not taken further, the court was told.

But Bowes, who worked for in Brighton for Sussex Police, emailed the newspaper asking for money for the information.

The story was printed with information from another source and Bowes was never paid.

Bowes, 30, from Steyning, West Sussex, pleaded guilty last month to misconduct in public office.

The court heard that he passed information to the Sun newspaper about a child who was bitten by a fox and was paid £500.

And he passed on details of a psychic who had contacted police about a search for bodies in two former Brighton homes in 2010 of serial killer Peter Tobin, but was not paid.

Bowes was charged by officers from Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan Police investigation into police corruption.

Mr Justice Fulford told Bowes: “You have made available to the press confidential information concerning children.

“Your explanation is that it was a foolish attempt by you to be in some part associated with notorious or high-profile cases.”

Bowes had abused his position of trust and undermined the relationship the police had with the public.

Stephen Wedd, defending, said Bowes had now given £500 to the Crimestoppers charity, and had been dismissed by Sussex Police.

Mark Bryant-Heron, prosecuting, told the court that Bowes had access to the police computer to get information about the three reports in 2010.

Andre and Price had separated and there was a report of injuries to the couple’s daughter.

“The child protection team established no untoward injuries,” said Mr Bryant-Heron.

The following day Bowes emailed the News of the World news desk but was told that the newspaper already had the information.

“Clearly, the News of the World had access to other sources for information,” he added.

Bowes had emailed the Sun after a fox attacked a child at a birthday party and was paid after providing the contact details of the parents.

The father told the court he had to move his family away from their home until the fuss died down after the story was printed.

He also contacted the newspaper about the psychic who was later contacted by a journalist.

No story was published and Bowes was not paid, but the psychic said she had lost confidence in the police.

Mr Bryant-Heron told the court the child protection team “established very quickly that there were no bruises or injuries” to Tiaamii.

He said: “Peter Andre has made a statement saying he was hurt and embarrassed by the story.”

EX SCOTLAND YARD COP BAILED OVER MEDIA PAYMENTS

A retired Scotland Yard officer arrested by officers investigating inappropriate payments from journalists has been released on bail pending further inquiries.

The 57-year-old – who served on the force’s command that defends Britain against terror – was held on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, relating to the phone-hacking scandal.

Officers from Operation Elveden swooped on his Surrey home during a dawn raid before taking him into custody and conducting a search at the property.

The suspect, who became the 27th person arrested under Elveden after information was provided to police by News Corporation’s management standards committee, was released and bailed to a date in August, Scotland Yard said.

He worked as part of the force’s Specialist Operations command, which has a host of security responsibilities from providing armed protection services for ministers and the Royal Family to counter-terrorism intelligence gathering.

The inquiry into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials runs alongside the force’s Operation Weeting investigation into mobile phone interceptions.

The arrest comes a fortnight after The Sun’s royal editor, Duncan Larcombe, was arrested along with a 42-year-old former member of the armed forces and a 38-year-old woman as part of the same inquiry.

SOLICITOR JAILED FOR £50K OAP FRAUD

MICHAEL RIGG - THE JAILED SOLICITOR

A solicitor has been jailed for 26 months after stealing more than £51,000 from an elderly dementia sufferer who treated him like a son.

Michael Rigg, 60, of Carlton Mount, Yeadon, Leeds, had known 84-year-old Jessie Robinson for around 30 years and stood to receive half of her estate when she died.

He began using her money “for his own piggy bank” after he was made power of attorney when Mrs Robinson went into a care home.

Mark Foley, defending Rigg, told Leeds Crown Court his client was “a man of modest means” who spent the money on donations to the church and charity, his mother’s nursing home fees and payments to people “in financial need”.

He said: “That money, it is not suggested, was spent on a profligate lifestyle. There is no evidence of this money being spent frivolously.”

Mr Foley told the court that Rigg, a keen train spotter and cyclist, could not explain why he had taken the money and had “great difficulty in really recognising the enormity and seriousness of what he’s done”.

He said: “One possibility is he was getting his money out before it was spent on nursing home fees.”

The court heard Rigg was a family friend of Mrs Robinson who acted as a solicitor for her and her late husband, looked after her and visited her regularly.

Mr Foley said: “He describes himself as being a son-like figure to the complainant.”

Mrs Robinson drew up a will with a different solicitor, naming Rigg as a 50% beneficiary and, in September 2007, she granted him power of attorney.

The court heard that, while the documents were drawn up correctly, Rigg never registered them.

Over the next three years, he withdrew a total of £51,488.68 from three building society accounts and a post Office account.

He was arrested in 2011 when staff at the Yeadon branch of the Leeds Building Society became suspicious.

He initially told police he had given some of the money to Mrs Robinson but later admitted he had used it for his own purposes.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud at Leeds Crown Court last month.

Mr Foley said: “This is a solicitor of 60 years of age, a man of good character, who has committed an appalling breach of trust.”

Sentencing Rigg to 26 months in prison, Recorder Tahir Khan QC said: “It was against a vulnerable victim and in these circumstances it is difficult to imagine somebody being more vulnerable and in need of protection.

“You were in a position of great responsibility and trust towards Mrs Robinson.”

He continued: “You persistently stole money belonging to the victim over three years.

“Your occupation as a solicitor would have left you with no doubt at all that what you were engaging in was serious dishonesty.”

The court heard Rigg had repaid the money taken from Mrs Robinson and proceeds of crime proceedings were also under way.

Speaking outside the court after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Steven Taylor, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “This is a bizarre case with no real motive. The only thing that we found was this was easily accessible money.

“He used his client and friend’s money for his own piggy bank.”

The detective added: “The fact that he was a family friend is an aggravating feature. The fact that he’s a professional in a role as such to protect his client, it’s unforgivable really.

“We’re expected as professionals to protect the most vulnerable in society, which this lady is.”

TOP COP DIZAEI OUT AFTER JUST 13 DAYS

Commander Ali Dizaei arrests the young web designer

‘Sheer vengeance’

 Ali Dizaei says he now faces becoming homeless for being an ‘outsider’. By Paul Peachey, The Independent

He calls himself a “radical activist” and compares himself to some of the victims of the most notorious miscarriages of justice of the modern era. He paints himself as an outsider of an “old boy’s network” at Scotland Yard and the target of a media witch-hunt. But Ali Dizaei, the most senior police officer found guilty of corruption for a generation, said at the end of the day “I’m just a copper”.

Not for much longer. Dizaei, 49, is expected to be drummed out of the Metropolitan Police after a controversial 25-year career punctuated by conflict, suspensions, some plaudits and, last month, a criminal conviction for attempting to frame a young web designer in a dispute over an unpaid bill.

The Iranian-born officer is suspended without pay, but is unlikely to go quietly. He is continuing with what he calls his five-year plan to clear his name following his latest two-week stint in solitary confinement at Wandsworth Prison in south London. He emerged last week wearing an electronic tag.

In a wide-ranging interview with i at his home in west London this week, the suspended senior officer spoke of his time inside prison and his plans to sue News International after learning last year that he may have been a victim of phone hacking.

He also spoke of the threat to his home after being hit with a six-figure bill for prosecution costs.

“They want the costs for putting me in prison,” said the former commander, who once earned £90,000 a year. “They want to make me homeless. This is all I have. They want me to sell my house, so my family is homeless as well.”

Any sympathy is likely to be in short supply at Scotland Yard, where he had been an officer since 1999. His eventful career saw him suspended and put under surveillance during the multimillion pound Operation Helios over allegations that he had corrupt links with criminals and spied for the Iranians. The allegations proved to be unfounded.

Afterwards, Dizaei was at the heart of some of the very public ructions over racism within the country’s biggest force in the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. He was finally brought down over a clash with a man who claimed that Dizaei had not paid him for work on a personal website.

He was jailed in 2010 for the wrongful arrest of Waad al-Baghdadi and served 462 days in prison before being freed on appeal after it emerged that his accuser was a benefit fraudster. During his first time inside, he was attacked twice – once being assaulted by six other inmates and having excrement stuffed in his face and mouth, he said.

He was convicted at a second trial last month and spent his two weeks inside in solitary confinement because of the risk of him being attacked by other prisoners. It was a block with some of the most disruptive prisoners at Wandsworth.

He said: “In the cells across from me, they were shouting, ‘f***ing copper, we’re going to get you when you go to have your meals’. The threats were being thrown at me all the time, day and night. They knew I was there because my name was prominently displayed on the door of my cell.”

He said he spent his latest spell inside reading thrillers. Dizaei said his experiences at more than four prisons during his near 16 months on the other side of the fence highlighted failings of the criminal justice system. He said that overcrowded prisons did little to rehabilitate inmates.

“One of the reasons I believe that prison doesn’t work is because for quite a lot of people the initial shock of going into prison wears away after two to three weeks,” he said. “As human beings, we take it in our stride very quickly.

“Prisons are bursting from overcapacity. There were not enough courses for the prisoners to do. The courses that were on offer were not a means to an end. There was nothing to prepare the prisoner and get them match-fit so they could come out and leave crime for a new life.”

Now out, he is preparing a claim against News International after he was told that his phone might have been hacked while he was acting as legal advisor to the national Black Police Association in 2006. He said he was told “it was in a pattern which was consistent with tapping voicemails but they have been generally unhelpful because they don’t like Ali Dizaei”.

He said he does not know what he will do next, but is unlikely to be an officer. “The Metropolitan Police doesn’t warm to radical activists,” he said. “It’s against the nature of the beast.”

Mark Leech editor of Converse the national prisoners newspaper says:

“Ali Dizaei has served his time and now deserves all the help he can get to put his life back on track – in prison he was treated disgracefully.

“Forcing him now to sell his home and make his family homeless is sheer vengeance, not justice; the State has had its pound of flesh and should now leave him alone.”