Booze brewed behind bars
BOTTLES of cell-brewed booze are among the 1000 banned items prisoners are caught with behind bars each year, along with phones, syringes and improvised weapons.
The seizures come as jail guards beef up detection activities, conducting an extra 45,000 searches in 2016-17.
And authorities have banned triple the number of people from visiting criminals at prisons across the state. Figures released by the Correctional Services Department, following requests from The Advertiser, show officers found and seized 997 prohibited items in 2016-17, and 1171 the previous year.
The contraband included mobile phones, SIM cards, phone chargers, illicit drugs, syringes, improvised weapons and home-brewed alcohol.
Officers conducted 6594 targeted drug tests in 2016-17 and the number of searches hit 183,272, up from 136,933 in the previous 12 months.
A department spokeswoman said other measures included upgraded jail gatehouses and fingerprint, eye and baggage scanning of visitors and staff. “Strict policies” led to the banning of 294 visitors to prisons across the state , more than triple the 94 blacklisted the previous year.
Corrections Minister Chris Picton said there was a “zero tolerance approach towards visitors attempting to intro- duce contraband into prisons”. “These people can find themselves on the other side of the bars, facing up to five years in prison,” he said. “Prisoners and their associates are always devising new methods of trying to introduce contraband, but our staff are in step with these practices and it is harder than ever.”
However, Opposition corrections spokesman Stephan Knoll said the Government had been “lazy” in reforming prison security and the Liberal Party would make changes if it wins the March state election.
“We know that prisons continue to be a haven for drug use,” Mr Knoll said.
“We will ban bikie gang members from visiting prisons, introduce mobile phone jammers to help stop communication with criminals on the outside, and legislate to allow broader drug testing within our prisons.”
The union representing jail guards concedes that contraband making its way into prisons is “a reality of life”.
Acting general secretary Natasha Brown said the Public Service Association “acknowledges that it is often difficult to detect ... (because) the amount and quantity of drugs being taken in at any one time can be very small, syringes can also be very small ... just the tip of a needle, not the whole syringe”.
Ms Brown praised “reductions in contraband being taken into prisons from the increased detection measures implemented in the last year”. PAGE 16: DRUG DEAL TO DOORSTEP