DRUGS ON THE WING IN FOOTIE PITCH RUSE

The People - - NEWS FEATURES & - By Nick Dor­man

A JAIL is putting guards on touch­lines dur­ing con­victs’ football matches – be­cause drugs and mo­biles keep be­ing thrown on to the pitch from out­side.

Play­ers are said to have been stuff­ing il­licit pack­ages down their shorts or up their shirts be­fore head­ing to the show­ers and then back to cells.

The rogue “throw-ins” have been de­tected at HMP Alt­course on Mersey­side – where Liver­pool FC coaches are to run a soc­cer train­ing course. There is no sug­ges­tion the club knows of the ruse.

It has be­come so preva­lent that cons are turn­ing their backs on Spice – now wide­spread in most jails – and go­ing back to tra­di­tional drugs which have been harder for vis­i­tors to smug­gle in through the gates. A source said: “Some bright spark worked out that footie games were vul­ner­a­ble to smug­glers so se­cu­rity has been stepped up.”

The cat­e­gory B jail in Faza­k­er­ley is set in 80 acres of grounds and sur­rounded by woods, mean­ing it is eas­ier for pack­ages to be lobbed over fences un­de­tected.

The on-pitch drugs smug­gling was re­vealed in a re­port by jail watch­dog the In­de­pen­dent Mon­i­tor­ing Board. In­spec­tors said the Alt­course se­cu­rity team had “iden­ti­fied a num­ber of routes” where drugs come in, with a main one be­ing the soc­cer pitches.

It stated: “The se­cu­rity depart­ment is ad­dress­ing this by the in­stal­la­tion of new net­ting and fenc­ing, en­hanced pitch pa­trols and a more proac­tive ap­proach to pros­e­cut­ing of­fend­ers.”

It added that the use of Spice had de­creased, with lags turn­ing to cannabis in­stead.

Alt­course di­rec­tor Steve Wil­liams, of pri­vate firm G4S which runs the jail on be­half of the Min­istry of Jus­tice, said: “The re­port recog­nises the so­phis­ti­cated steps we have taken to tackle this threat.

“We will look care­fully at the rec­om­men­da­tions made.”

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