TWO more officers have been suspended from a prison which is now at the centre of a number of separate disciplinary probes, The Northern Echo can reveal.
The investigations concern claims of racism and that an inmate was deliberately humiliated by staff by being made to kneel and pray to a cartoon figure.
A union boss admitted our revelations were “worrying” but said: “Unfortunately, we work in an environment where allegations can be very easily made.”
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The news comes as it has emerged a female warder arrested over claims that she had an improper relationship with an inmate will not face police charges.
The 45-year-old woman was suspended from her duties at Holme House Prison, in Stockton, while detectives carried out the investigation last year.
She was quizzed on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and was released on bail. Cleveland Police said last night that the matter was closed.
The Prison Service, however, confirmed that the internal inquiry is continuing – and that two other warders are also facing disciplinary investigations.
The Northern Echo understands that an officer is alleged to have made racist “monkey” noises towards another man at the Category B jail.
In another alleged incident, it is believed a makeshift altar was built with a Scooby Doo character at the top, and a prisoner was made to pray to the cartoon dog.
Terry Fullerton, from the Prison Officers' Association, said: “I'm not aware of these matters, but I'm gob-smacked if what you are saying is right.
“The news obviously worries me, but I would say that this will just be the beginning of the disciplinary process and it will take its course over time.
“Every officer who dons the uniform has a responsibility to act professionally. The Prison Service cannot afford to have anyone who does not.”
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “These members of staff remain suspended while the incidents at HMP Holme House are investigated.”
Cleveland Police said: “We can confirm that a 45-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office has been released without further action.”
The prison – which houses 1,200 inmates – is at the centre of another case which will be dealt with at Teesside Crown Court this week.
An officer from another jail is facing custody when she is sentenced for having an improper relationship with a inmate she met at her prison.
The drug dealer remained in touch with the 32-year-old after being freed, re-arrested and jailed for a huge cocaine, heroin and cannabis conspiracy.
Their relationship came to light when the man was being held at Holme House and a mobile telephone smuggled into the jail was found.
The guard admitted misconduct in a public office and money laundering offences at an earlier court hearing and will be sentenced on Friday.
The charges relate to a period between January 2008 and September last year when a “covert” mobile phone was found by prison authorities.
Prosecutor Simon Myers said the phone was used by a number of inmates and the warder's contact with it was “one of the most serious aspects” of the case.