Confidential prison helpline launched to combat illegal trafficking of drugs and weapons
The Irish Prison Service has launched a free confidential phone line to combat the illegal trafficking of drugs and weapons into prisons.
Tablets such as vallium are currently the most prevalent drug abused in Irish prisons.
Heroin use among prisoners is not as common as it once was.
However, weapons such as toothbrushes fitted with a double razor blade are regularly smuggled into prisons.
There were over 1,000 seizures of drugs in prisons in 2013, and already this year 418 confiscations have taken place.
Michael Donnellan, Director General of the Irish Prison Service, said that prisoner's families are often pressured into facilitating the supply of drugs into prisons.
"The phone line will help these people, et them know that they are not alone, they can talk to us and we will do everything in our power to help them," he said.
Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland, has worked closely with the Irish Prison Service in establishing the anti trafficking phone line.
He explained that the availability of drugs in prison undermines an addict's attempts at recovery, and every effort must be made to stem the supply of drugs into prisons.
"Drugs in prisons drive criminality and violence," he said.
However, there is evidence that prisoners are taking steps to rid themselves of drug addiction while in prison.
Out of a prison population of 4,000 people, over 3,000 have accessed the suite of drug counselling services offered to inmates as part of the National Drug Strategy.
The new phone service can be used by members of the general public and by prisoners.
The Chief Officer of the prison service, Ben Buckley, said that all calls will be handled confidentially and cannot be traced.
The phone line, 1800 855 717, is open daily from 8am to 8pm and will be operated on a similar basis to the "crimestoppers" hotline run by the Garda Siochana.
Calls received outside these hours will be redirected to an answering machine.