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Saturday 25 February 2017

Prison governor's crackdown nets drugs and phones

Tom Brady Security Editor

Prison officers seized smuggled mobile phones and drugs in a major search operation in part of the Mountjoy jail complex.

The planned search is part of a crackdown by governor Ned Whelan on the smuggling of contraband into the campus.

Officers from the Prison Service's operational support group (OSG) recovered 25 mobile phones, a dozen phone chargers, five packets of drugs, mainly tablets, and 18 needles and syringes as well as €50 in cash.

Mr Whelan told the Irish Independent last night the searches were part of a campaign he had introduced in June, when he took charge of Mountjoy, to turn the complex into a drug- and mobile phone- free zone.

The first phase of the new campaign involved the erection of horizontal security netting enclosing the yards in the main prison to stop packages and drug-filled tennis balls being hurled over the perimeter walls to the inmates.

"The netting installation will now be extended to cover the exercise yard in that unit", Mr Whelan said.

At present, 232 inmates -- more than a third of the Mountjoy population -- are on methadone maintenance.

In the first five months of the year, the OSG made 365 seizures of drugs, phones and weapons.

Meanwhile, the Prison Officers Association is to meet senior officials from the Prison Service today in the wake of the savage attack on a member of the staff in Mountjoy's separation unit last Friday. The injured officer had to receive 16 stitches in a facial wound after he was attacked by a prisoner, who had been held in a padded special observation cell.

The attack was carried out with a razor blade, which the prisoner had concealed on his person and was unprovoked.

Following the assault, the prisoner was transferred to Portlaoise jail where he is locked up 23 hours a day in the punishment block.

Irish Independent

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