WHITEMOOR: MP claims governor has lost confidence of majority of his staff
By JOHN ELWORTHY MP MALCOLM Moss today claimed the governor of one of Britain s security prisons had lost the confidence of the majority of his staff. Mr Moss, the MP for NE Cambs, said staff at the top security prison- recently criticised for its handli
By JOHN ELWORTHY
MP MALCOLM Moss today claimed the governor of one of Britain's security prisons had lost the confidence of the majority of his staff.
Mr Moss, the MP for NE Cambs, said staff at the top security prison- recently criticised for its handling of Muslim prisoners- had passed a vote of no confidence in the governor, Steve Rodford.
The MP described the situation at Whitemoor Prison in his constituency as showing grounds for concern and said growing unrests "manifests itself in how the governor runs the jail."
"I am told there are 'no go' areas in the prison, a similar situation to that we had when the IRA maintained an inner sanctum in the prison.
"Prison officers couldn't do their jobs properly then and prisoners did what they like. We may now be operating a similar situation. My fear is something could happen and we would look back and say why did we let it happen."
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Mr Moss, who has recently tabled six Parliamentary questions about Whitemoor-including trying to discover details of an alleged attempted murder- said Government ministers were frustrating his attempts to find out present conditions.
"I think the point should be made that the public has a right to know what is going on in a public institution such as a prison. Information given to me indicates all is not well and my duty is to investigate the facts of the matter," he said.
Mr Moss said he was "confident in my source" in describing a recent vote of no confidence in the governor of the prison where a third of the 360 inmates are now Muslim.
"My source had nothing to be gained by revealing that information but he did so for proper altruistic reasons. "
Mr Moss said the atmosphere inside Whitemoor was tense and it was a case of "political correctness gone made. People with the right political correctness are being promoted over more traditionalist officers. It is very difficult to answer questions about that without going into the realms of privacy but it has been raised with me and these things should be investigated. This issue is not going to go away- and I'm not going to give up finding the answers."
He said it was "not useful" to have a meeting with the governor since he felt it was up to the prison authorities to be conducting their own investigation.
"They should be talking to the Prison Officers' Association. If the Government and authorities put people into Whitemoor they would get some feel for what is going on. I am confident that a large proportion- indeed an overwhelming proportion- of prison officers and staff has no confidence in the prison governor and the way the prison is being run," he said.
He added: "No one wants a badly run prison on their doorstep. If people inside the prison are saying it is not being run properly then these are serious questions and although the allegations may be unfounded I simply don't know the truth."
Mr Moss said one area of concern was about the segregation of non Muslims and Muslims, the latter he described as being "a law unto themselves. It is not a racist thing to say, but if we have a disproportionate large number of prisoners who are not following the normal regime or are having special arrangements made and if you have lost the confidence of staff then you have a heck of a problem in running a prison.
"Staff morale is a problem, and manifests itself in how the governor leads his team."
Mr Moss said the governor had upset staff by changing rotas and altering overtime "to the detriment of the work force. Changing earning patterns is something no one likes to see."
Mr Moss added that he had been pressing the Government for answers "and frankly for civil servants and ministers to block these questions is the wrong approach.
"If there are difficulties they should open up rather than keep it under wrap. I don't write letters for my own benefit but for the benefit of my constituents - and these letters now go back two years.