Jail bosses in Liverpool today vowed to stamp out future corruption after a crooked prison officer was locked up for dating a convict who later escaped custody.
Love-struck Chloe Jones entered into a relationship with inmate Philip King and the pair exchanged a staggering 3,000 texts over just 46 days, him using an illicit mobile phone, the equivalent of 65 messages every 24 hours.
During their relationship, which was started in HMP Altcourse in Fazakerley, the convicted thief and burglar was moved to HMP Sudbury in Derbyshire.
But the 33-year-old was to later stroll out of the open jail on September 1, 2017, and remained on the run for more than two months.
Jones, 30, allowed her lover to stay at her parents’ home in Kirkby and use her car while he remained at large.
While on the run, in November, it is alleged King committed a burglary in St Helens, a offence which he denies.
A BMW was stolen in the burglary, and King and Jones were involved in a police pursuit through Kirkby and Liverpool with King driving the vehicle.
The car allegedly hit speeds of up to 120mph and after stopping on the M57 the occupants made off – however Jones was caught at the scene and arrested.
After claiming King was a Tinder hook up called “Paul Jones”, she admitted the next day he was her boyfriend.
Yesterday, at Liverpool Crown Court, Jones was jailed for 15 months after admitting misconduct in a public office.
Her actions led to her resigning from her job at Altcourse.
Today, bosses at Altcourse stressed they were well-placed to root out any future corruption or misconduct among staff at the north Liverpool jail.
Senior figures at the Category B facility say they have a “strong system in place, which gives them [staff] confidence to report any suspicious behaviour”.
Employees at Brookfield Drive were urged to be vigilant, it was said, and encouraged to report anything suspicious among prison guards or other staff.
A source told the ECHO: “Intelligence is constantly being shared within the prison and joint work with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service counter-corruption team and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit allows [us] to tackle corruption effectively, bring those involved to justice, but also send out a strong message to other staff members.”
It was added: “The majority of staff work tirelessly to make sure prisoners live in a safe and caring environment.
“Corrupt staff undermine the stability and safety of any prison regime; our staff know this.”
The investigation into Jones was carried out by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit that tackles high-level offending throughout the region, on behalf of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and North Wales.
Detective Inspector Dawn Hampson, from that squad, said: “Chloe Jones abused her position as a prison officer by choosing to have an inappropriate relationship with an inmate and she will now have to face the consequences of her actions.
“We will continue to take robust action and investigate any offences which we suspect are taking place in our prisons.”
Director of HMP Altcourse, Steve Williams said: “We expect the highest standards of conduct from our staff and will not tolerate behaviour that undermines the good work of our colleagues.
“If we suspect wrongdoing, we will always share intelligence with the police and other agencies.
“I’d like to thank my team and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit for their exemplary work.”
Jones’ barrister claimed her client, of previous good character, had been “blinded by love” and was full of “genuine remorse”.