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Operation launched to prevent contraband entering prison 25 November 2008

Jurby Prison A WingA JOINT initiative is being launched in a bid to prevent controlled drugs and contraband entering the Island’s prison.

Police officers will be working alongside members of the Prison Service in order to safeguard the wellbeing of inmates, visitors and staff at Jurby. Operation Design will focus on education and enforcement, with leaflet drops and random stop-checks being carried out under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Officers from the Northern and Western Neighbourhood Policing Teams will be supported by the Road Policing Unit and Police Dog Unit in a series of high-visibility patrols over the next 12 months. The aim is to disrupt the supply of controlled substances and contraband such as tobacco and mobile phones.

Vehicles approaching the prison may be stopped by uniformed officers who will explain what is happening to the occupants. Information leaflets will be issued to outline the objectives of Operation Design and raise awareness of the possible consequences of trying to smuggle illegal items to inmates.

The hand-outs will also highlight the support available in the Island for people who may be battling an addiction or being coerced into breaking the law. The aim is to promote a greater understanding of drug-related issues and reassure the public that positive action is being taken.

However, anybody suspected of an offence will be detained in an area of the prison car park and have their vehicles searched by officers and sniffer dogs. Those found to be in possession of controlled substances face being arrested and charged.

The prison’s Security Manager, Deputy Governor Colin Ring, said:

‘Operation Design represents a concerted effort to protect the welfare of inmates, staff, visitors and their families. The supply of drugs and other contraband can lead to problems with addiction and intimidation so the Isle of Man Prison Service and Constabulary are joining forces to ensure a safe environment for all. Visitors can sometimes be bullied into carrying drugs, tobacco or mobile phones, but we want to send out the message that such behaviour will not be tolerated.’

Mr Ring will be available to deal with any questions or concerns raised by visitors as a result of Operation Design. He added: ‘It is not our intention to disrupt visits, but we have a duty of care to inmates and members of staff to keep controlled substances out of the prison.’

In addition to the presence of officers outside the prison, visitors will face the normal security checks on entering the building. Anybody suspected of being in possession of a controlled item they will be refused entry and referred to the police for further action. Those who are believed to have swallowed or concealed drugs or contraband will be urged to contact the accident and emergency department for immediate assistance.

Sergeant Ian Kelly, head of the Police Dog Unit, said:

‘The Isle of Man Constabulary continues to gather intelligence as part of the crackdown on the supply and misuse of drugs. We want to reinforce the message that anybody involved with controlled substances in the Island runs a very high risk of being apprehended. At the same time we can offer information and support to individuals who may need assistance or guidance in relation to drug-related matters.’

Operation Design has the full backing of the Chief Minister’s Drug and Alcohol Strategy. Bill Malarkey MHK, member of the Department of Home Affairs with responsibility for the Strategy, said:

‘Drugs can have a devastating impact on society and can be particularly harmful in the prison environment. We are committed to maintaining community safety and also support the hard work that takes place inside the prison in terms of healthcare provision and visits by members of the Drug and Alcohol Team.’

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