The British authorities have recruited 300 highly-trained dogs that can sniff out the drugs being smuggled into the prisons, the UK government today said. Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah said the specialist dogs recruitment was among a slew of measures the Ministry of Justice had taken in its bid to enhance security in prisons, for which an investment worth 2 million pounds has been made. These measures include installation of mobile phone detectors and portable detection poles in prisons to step up the detection of illegal phones on the landings. The minister said the officials had been able to recover a huge haul of drugs and mobile phones since the introduction of detection measures to crackdown on prison contraband. “This has allowed officers to focus their efforts on reforming and turning the lives around of offenders,” he said. According to the latest statistics, in 2016, prison staff recovered 225 kg of illicit drugs, 13,000 mobile phones and 7,000 sim cards across the prison estate.
In Sunday’s announcement, Gyimah asserted that he was “absolutely determined” to resolve the issue of increased violence and smuggling of drugs and mobile phones in the prisons. “The measures are part of a much wider strategy to tackle the most pressing threats to security in prisons and backed by a strengthening of the frontline with 2,500 additional prison officers by 2018,” he said.
Gyimah said drones were also been used to smuggle banned substances into the prisons. “A specialist squad of prison and police officers has been formed to tackle the threat drones pose to prison security,” he said. The team of investigators will work closely with national law enforcement agencies and HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) to inspect drones that have been recovered from prisons in a bid to identify and track down those involved in attempts to smuggle in contraband.
To date, 35 people have been arrested and 11 convicted for their involvement in drone-related activities. “Those convicted have been jailed for a combined total of more than 40 years,” said Gyimah.
In its fight against the increased violence and drug smuggling in its prisons, the government has introduced legislation which makes the possession of psychoactive substances a criminal offence. The prisons minister said the security issues in prisons will not be resolved overnight, but that the UK must make progress in tackling these problems. “These figures highlight the determination of prison staff to disrupt this behaviour, whilst at the same time sending a clear message that we will push to prosecute anyone who involves themselves in this kind of activity,” he said.