Drugs offenders

A PORT has suspended a group of convicted criminals allegedly employed at the site alongside customs officials while on day release from an East Anglian prison.

By Danielle Nuttall

A PORT has suspended a group of convicted criminals allegedly employed at the site alongside customs officials while on day release from an East Anglian prison.

The inmates, from Hollesley Bay Prison, near Woodbridge, were working at the Port of Felixstowe as part of a rehabilitation programme that prepares them for life back in the community, it has been claimed.

The men, who were allegedly recruited for the job by an agency, included an Essex man serving seven years for smuggling cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis as well as other prisoners serving sentences for drug offences.


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They were suspended following reports in a national newspaper at the weekend, which alleged prisoners were being employed at the port and were responsible for moving containers to Customs warehouses to be searched for drugs and weapons.

Yesterday, the port's spokesman Paul Davey said: “We were not aware in advance that these prisoners were working for the port.

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“The prisoners were supplied by a sub-contractor. We were not aware in advance that they were employing prisoners from Hollesley Bay.

“When we became aware of it, we took steps to bring it to an end to stop them working at the port. They are no longer working there.

“We are not opposed to the programme of rehabilitating prisoners but we do not think the port is an appropriate place for that to happen which is why we have taken the steps we have to stop them working there.”

Last night, a spokeswoman for the Prison Service said a scheme involving prisoners working at the port had been in place for 14 months.

She said: “This is a successful scheme that has been running for over 14 months now.

“They are vigorously risk assessed for doing this type of work. There are no cases of inmates placed on the scheme failing to return and no-one has been convicted of a crime during this time on the rehabilitation scheme.

“As long as they are no risk to the public, they are risk assessed to the appropriate position they are working in.”

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