Drones are seen as an increasingly popular method for smuggling doses and mobile phones into prisons, but having prison personnel bring in contraband is also an efficient road for prisoners.
A conversation with a prison prisoner about football led James Almond to break the law himself.
The then prison worker was chitchatting about his favourite team Manchester United, when the hostage he was speaking to suddenly asked him to bring in mobile phones, which are banned behind bars.
“He stopped requesting daily, and become aggressive with concepts he’d reply, ” Almond says.
This was in 2014 when he was employed under Stocken Prison in Rutland.
The 33 -year-old eventually agreed to wreaking telephones in, and did so for a number of weeks before being caught, purposing up in prisons himself.
He’s now telling his tale so others can understand the pressure he came under from the hostage and how unwilling he was for dealing with it.
His case highlights the problem of the staff members bribery in prisons in England and Wales, a problem some believe is being swept under the carpet.
While there’s wide-ranging agreement that the vast majority of prison personnel impart themselves with integrity and professionalism, a small number act corruptly – and their actions can have a disproportionate effect on stability and safety.
One well-informed root with extended knowledge of the prison system told BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 there was a labouring assumption that between three and five staff in every incarcerate were corrupt, which equates to around 600 across England and Wales.
Out of some 33,000 prison detectives and staff that’s still national minorities, but a not insignificant one.
James Almond never expected to be in that minority when he started working at HMP Stocken, which holds around 670 male offenders, numerous serving sentences for brutality.
But his task as an operational carry pointed employee escorting construct contractors in the prison developed. Before long he was out of his penetration – having daily linked with hostages, a capacity for which he claims he’d “havent had” training.
“I did appear moderately susceptible in the role, specially because at the time I was standing heavily with feeling after my father passed away.
“And that is the kind of event these prisoners pick up on quite easily, ” he says.
One especially manipulative prisoner, with whom Almond had begun examining football, took advantage – threatening to harm his young relatives if he didn’t comply.
“He really scared me with those threats, specially when he answered ‘I know about your niece and nephew’.
“This gentleman was in prison for armed robbery. I didn’t know what he was capable of.”
The demands and menaces wore Almond down and eventually he agreed to bring in a phone.
Mobiles are a helpful commodity, since they are enable prisoners to keep in touch with their family and contact felons on the outside – and calls are not observed like the prison pay phones are.
Almond took its participation in four smuggling missions, compiling a parcel in a carrier bag from a stranger in a parking lot, declining the allotment into his gym container, then treading through the entrances at Stocken.
“I was trying to merely play it neat and cool, ” he does.
He says he never gazed within the parcels, but it’s thought they may also have contained narcotics such as the potent synthetic cannabis replacement, Spice.
“It was a calculated gamble that wasn’t the working day they decided … to do a faculty hunting, ” he does, claiming he was never examined during his six months have a job.
He received 500 for each parcel, double his weekly take-home spend, and is a known fact that as well as acting out of dread of the prisoner, the money was too “an incentive”.
John Podmore, who spent 25 years in the prison service – including a stint as heads of state of the anti-corruption section – feels low-toned spend and a lack of adequate education are two determining factor driving staff to bring in black-market.
He does decay is an “inconvenient truth” which has much more of an impact than the well-publicised difficulty of monotones, which delivers packages to prison cell openings or discontinue them inside perimeter walls.
“One prison officer bringing in one coffee jar full of Spice or cannabis can save that incarcerate going for a very long period of time and make an horrific mas of money, ” he says.
“There is a disproportionate effect by this small minority of staff members and that’s what needs to be understood.”
A number of former prisoners I spoke to agreed that while dopes and telephones are thrown over walls, “ve brought” by visitors or mailed through the post, bribery are an important source as well.
One man knew of a prison man who brought in medicines in empty tubs of Pringles crisps. Another former inpatient articulated faculty had taken packets instantly from the berth chamber to a captive without them being examined.
And various ex-prisoners said some officers became a “blind eye” to drug-dealing and drug-taking.
“If you’re doing a extremely, long time and you’re not going anywhere, it would be prudent to just leave you alone, and that’s the type of stance they took for a long while, ” responds Leroy Smith.
He spent the best part of two decades in prison for the attempted assassinate of two policemen in 1994.
“The doors would be left open and everything was loosen and parties would just do whatever they wished within reason inside the jail.”
Smith, who was eventually released in 2014 and has now written a journal about its own experience, remarks corrupted personnel didn’t bring in stimulants often, but when they did it had a profound effect.
“In five years you might have three times where reference is happens, but when it happens it’s large-scale because the whole target is saturated because it is just continual – everyday they are just making it and bringing it and raising it, ” he enunciates.
The Ministry of Justice, who is in charge of prisons in England and Wales, speaks it remains “vigilant” to the threat posed by corruption and takes “swift action” against those involved.
The department is investing 3m in a brand-new ability part, developing a fraud programme and considering introducing a prison-specific offence of corruption.
Jerry Petherick, one of the country’s most experienced prison administrators who worked in the public sector for 23 years before joining the private corporation G4S more than a decade ago, “says hes” do their “damnedest” to catch corrupt staff.
He formerly activated investigation into the cases after recognise an expensive car parked outside a prison – it belonged to a member of staff, who turned out to be demoralize.
“It may seem strange for me to say that we actually celebrate those successes, ” articulates Mr Petherick, who conceives the publicity acts as a deterrent.
“The vast majority of staff do not want to be associated with, do not want to work alongside corrupted staff member because it places safety issues at risk, ” he says.
Almond is accepted that his actions could have applied the staff members of Stocken Prison at risk.
He was given a 12 -month jail sentence for bringing in the phones. After being released early, probation staff facilitated him find a new job, in a factory.
Almond announces the Prison Service should improve training for staff so they’re better able to handle devious captives, but countenances he must take the majority of members of the blame for what he did, and it could have been much worse.
“It did occur to me that such is facilitating the hostage … to carry on with their, maybe, drug endeavors on the outside, get medicines into the prison, and being able to organise a rioting or happenings like that, ” remarks Almond.
“It could have resulted in hurts to a lot of staff.”
File on 4 is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 GMT on Tuesday 14 March and 17:00 GMT on Sunday 19 March.