Monday 19 August 2019

Report attacks prison surveillance methods

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Allison Bray

The Irish Prison Service paid two private security firms €29,000 to conduct covert surveillance inside and outside of certain prisons in a misguided attempt to stop the flow of drugs and other contraband into prisons, a report has found.

The investigation by Inspector of Prisons Patricia Gilheaney was ordered by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan last year after allegations by a whistleblower emerged in November 2018.

It was claimed tracking devices were used on prison officers' cars and conversations between solicitors and prisoners were recorded.

The allegations concerned members of the Operational Support Group (OSG), which was established in 2008 to fight against the supply of contraband to prisons, such as drugs, mobile phones and weapons.

The inspector found no evidence of conversations between prisoners and solicitors being recorded.

However, she did find evidence that the OSG engaged a private detective agency "in the provision of services, including covert surveillance, tracking and installation of CCTV both inside and outside certain Irish prisons" in 2011 and 2012.

Such activity "fell outside of acceptable practice," she wrote in her report, released yesterday.

Irish Independent

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