Booze brewed be­hind bars

The Advertiser - - NEWS - LAU­REN NO­VAK PO­LIT­I­CAL RE­PORTER MON­DAY JAN­UARY 15 2018

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

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