17 September 2008
The Department of Corrections today announced that it had successfully blocked a number of attempts to smuggle large quantities of drugs into New Zealand Prisons.
Corrections Manager Service Support Karen Urwin says recent finds at Waikeria and Auckland Prisons netted thousands of dollars worth of drugs. “All of the drugs found have been from members of the public attempting to smuggle them into the prison,” says Ms Urwin.
“Many prisoners have serious addictions and are continually looking at ways to smuggle drugs into prison. To combat this we have increased the level of surveillance equipment, put in place new scanning equipment in gatehouses, and doubled the number of drug dogs working in prisons.” says Ms Urwin.
“Any visitor may be asked to undergo a scanner or rub-down search prior to entering a prison and if they do not consent they will be refused entry.”
In a recent find at Waikeria Prison, a Corrections Officer saw some suspicious behaviour between a prisoner and his visitor and immediately called for assistance to search the prisoner and detain his visitor. This quick action resulted in the interception of 3.8 grams of methamphetamine and an arrest and ‘posession for supply’ charges for the visitor.
Staff operating a Prison Check Point at Auckland Prison made a large find recently with the help of the prison’s drug dog team. When searching the vehicle of two visitors to the prison staff uncovered a large quantity of drugs and other contraband. Both occupants of the car were handed over to the police, and subsequently found to have on them around 73 grams of methamphetamine with a street value of approximately $73,000 as well as cannabis, sim cards and other drug paraphernalia.
Drugs and a knife were also intercepted recently in mail at Tongariro/Rangipo Prison and a checkpoint for a family open day at the prison also intercepted small quantities of cannabis.
“I am really pleased with these recent finds,” says Ms Urwin. “Visitors trying to bring drugs into prisons are a major problem for the Department, and when our staff stop them in their tracks it is a major win for Corrections.”
“I hope that these examples deter people from attempting to bring drugs onto prison sites.
Ms Urwin says the Department was winning its war on drugs with the number of prisoners testing positive for drugs falling dramatically in the last 10 years
As at 30 June 2008 positive drug tests were at 13 per cent - compared to 34 per cent in 1998. This is the lowest percentage ever since drug testing was introduced in 1998.
“This a good sign that the work we are doing to stop drugs getting into prisons is proving effective.”
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