By Carl Jackson 20/07 Updated: 20/07 16:57
TWO PRISON officers from HMP Hewell have been jailed for misconduct in a public office after a court heard they had inappropriate relationships with serving prisoners.
Worcester Crown Court also heard Jodie Pugh and Danielle Ofkants had encouraged prisoners to use mobile phones, which is banned in jail.
Pugh, 30 and from Tipton was sentenced to two and a half years in jail and Ofkants, 25 and from Oakenshaw in Redditch, 12 months.
Both had previously admitted wilful misconduct in a public office at a previous hearing regarding the offences which took place between November 2010 and September last year.
An investigation into the pair's conduct began after prison authorities reported their suspicions about the officers' conduct.
It uncovered Pugh had made unauthorised telephone conversations with in-mates, supplying one with top-up vouchers and been to visit prisoners at other jails, and on one occasion used a false name on a visit to Scotland.
Ofkants also had unauthorised meetings and telephone conversations with serving prisoners and in doing so had encouraged the use of illicitly held mobile phones.
On one occasion both Pugh and Ofkants had visited Star City in Birmingham with a prisoner and Pugh had a meal out with the same inmate at a Broad Street restaurant in the city.
Det Insp Gerry Smith of West Mercia Police, said: "The corrupt activities Pugh and Ofkants were engaged in amounted to a serious abuse of the public's trust and it also posed a significant threat to prison discipline.
"People in positions of trust who contemplate such behaviour can expect the courts to come down on them hard."
Stephanie Roberts-Bibby, governor of HMP Hewell, added: "We remain committed to identifying and eradicating all forms of staff wrongdoing. Where staff develop an inappropriate relationship with a prisoner they put themselves and their colleagues at risk, potentially undermining the safety of the prison."
For more on this story see next week's Redditch Standard.
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