Sunday 22 July 2018

Surge in prison drug and weapon seizures

More than a third of all drug seizures in Irish jails occurred at Mountjoy (373). Stock Image
More than a third of all drug seizures in Irish jails occurred at Mountjoy (373). Stock Image

Darragh McDonagh

The number of drugs and weapons smuggled into prisons soared last year - despite costly attempts to clamp down on contraband.

There were 1,018 drug seizures, up 42pc on 2016, and 557 weapon seizures, up 28pc. The number of mobile phones confiscated was up 35pc at 870.

The increases are despite the Irish Prison Service (IPS) spending more than €313,000 on systems to tackle smuggling, including the installation of nets over exercise yards to catch drugs thrown over walls or dropped by drones.

More than a third of all drug seizures in Irish jails occurred at Mountjoy (373).

The next-highest haul was from inmates at Wheatfield, where 183 seizures were recorded. There were 13 seizures at the Dochas Centre, which accommodates female prisoners.

More than a third of all mobile phone seizures (334) happened at Mountjoy Prison.

The prison with the highest numbers of weapon seizures was Wheatfield (174), followed by the Midlands Prison (105).

An IPS spokesperson said: "Enhanced CCTV monitoring, stricter control of visits, and cell searches have reduced the availability of contraband. The introduction of passive and active drug-detection dogs, and the installation of airport-style security scanners and X-ray machines has also helped efforts to tackle the problem."

Irish Independent

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