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Crackdown results in increased drugs seizures at Prison 28 March 2008

DRUGS seizures at the Isle of Man Prison, Douglas, this year have already exceeded the total recovered last year.

Victoria Road PrisonA total of £2,371 street value worth of drugs – the majority cannabis with some cocaine and heroin – has been seized by prison officers, most from the prison grounds. Prison management attribute the increase to stepping up sweeps of the prison yard throughout the day, plus arranging additional searches by the prison’s drug dogs. Last year a total of £737 worth of drugs (cannabis, heroin, cocaine and steroids) was recovered.

Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle commented:

‘The Prison management are concerned by the number of people trying to supply drugs to the prison. However, the success of our policies to combat this should send out a message of zero tolerance. Most drugs are being thrown over the prison wall and prison authorities are working with police to ensure they are seized and the culprits brought to justice.
‘Random mandatory drugs tests (MDTs) of prisoners have proved positive in just 10.5% of cases to date, below last year’s total of 11.2% so that would indicate the success of the prison’s anti-drugs crackdown. However, any drugs getting into the prison remains a concern and the prison has my full support in their actions to combat the problem.'

Police have increased high visibility policing of Victoria Road in a bid to deter offenders from attempting to pass drugs into the prison. Yard patrols have also been increased, leading to more packets of drugs being recovered. Additionally, police are now routinely called in when drugs dogs indicate the scent on anyone visiting the prison.

The Prison's Acting Governor Colin Ring said:

‘We are robustly targeting all those who are attempting to get drugs into the prison. We have increased our ‘dynamic security’ – intelligence gathering and cell searching. We have an amnesty box at the prison gate where anyone entering the prison can dispose of any items including drugs prior to entering, with no questions asked. This box is checked several times each day. We also have an anonymous information phone line which people can call and leave a message about drugs or any intelligence they wish to pass on to the prison management. That number is 616955.’

Mr Ring added:

‘There isn’t a prison in the UK which doesn’t have some drugs but we are aiming to keep substance abuse in the Isle of Man Prison at the minimum. We realise the challenge when around 46% of prisoners are serving sentences for drugs offences and 57% have a history as drugs users. However, drugs counselling and de-tox programmes are available to prisoners and the message should be going out loud and clear that drug use will not be tolerated at the Isle of Man Prison. I should point out that the risk of being caught trying to smuggle illicit items into the prison is high, and anyone found bringing drugs into the prison could be looking at being charged with attempting to supply drugs to the prison, which could in turn lead to a substantial prison sentence.’

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