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Contraband found 250 times at Stoke Heath Prison

By James Pugh | Market Drayton | Crime | Published:

Illegal items such as mobile phones and knives were confiscated from prisoners on at least 250 occasions at Shropshire’s only prison last year.

The items were taken from inmates at Stoke Heath Prison, near Market Drayton, from January to October 2017.

Mobile phones were confiscated on at least 56 occasions.

Other confiscations were listed as:

  • Chargers - 32
  • New psychoactive substance and other substances were found - 23 times
  • Knives/bladed articles - 28
  • Alcohol/hooch - 21
  • Sim cards, 17

Cannabis, heroin, pipes and firearms were also confiscated.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which classed the figures as “incidents”, described the referral to firearms as “metal tubes stuck together in a rudimentary fashion”.

The year before, from January to December 2016, illegal items were confiscated on 230 occasions. These included mobile phones, 47; chargers, 40; knife/bladed articles, 20; alcohol/Hooch, 20; and new psychoactive substances/other, 18.

The MoJ, which released the figures under a Freedom of Information request, said an incident can include more than one item confiscated.

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In its response, the government body said: “The MoJ have purchased better quality detection equipment in larger quantities and equipped all prisons with additional portable detection devices to use across the prison. There are a range of robust security measures in place, including the use of surveillance, detection dogs and intelligence-led searches.

Sniffer dogs

“The MoJ have taken unprecedented action to tackle contraband and the supply of drugs, including an innovative drug testing programme, the training of over 300 specialist drug dogs, and upgrades to CCTV cameras across the estate. Those who break the rules will be punished and can face extra time behind bars.

“New drug tests for psychoactive substances were rolled out to all prisons in September and we have trained more than 300 sniffer dogs specifically to detect psychoactive substances.

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“We are working with the police to catch and convict criminal using drones to smuggle contraband into prisons, and testing physical and technological countermeasures to stop incursions. The MoJ are working with mobile network operators to deliver ground-breaking technology to stop illicit phones working in prisons.”

“Under measures introduced in late 2016, we can now apply for Telecommunications Restriction Orders at Court to block specific mobile phones being used in prisons.

“Since the legislation was introduced in August, we have had more than 150 mobile phones cut off.”

The MoJ added it was determined to ensure that prisons are properly staffed and has invested £100 million to boost the front line by 2,500 prison officers by the end of 2018.

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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