Female prison officer admits 'inappropriate' relationship with inmate at Durham women's prison

HMP Low Newton in County Durham.
HMP Low Newton in County Durham.
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A female prison officer has admitted having an 'inappropriate' relationship with an inmate at a Durham women's prison.

Melissa Priestley, 33, who was an officer at HMP Low Newton, was investigated after reports were received by prison authorities about the pair’s


A search of the female prisoner’s cell led to the discovery of letters suggesting an inappropriate relationship with a staff member had taken place.

During the police investigation, messages found on the phone of Melissa Priestly appeared to corroborate this.

She pleaded guilty to the charge against her at a hearing at Durham Crown Court today and will be sentenced at the court in a further hearing on September 22.

Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North East, John Dilworth, said: “For people to have confidence in the criminal justice system, they need to know that the law applies equally to all of those involved in the delivery of justice.

“The relationship between Melissa Priestly and the prisoner, over whom she had a professional duty of care, was wholly inappropriate.

“I would like to praise the swift actions of the prison authorities and police, once the initial reports of this relationship were received.

“Through their diligence, vital evidence was preserved, assisting greatly in the Crown’s preparation of a robust case against Melissa Priestly.”