Vehicle searches, drug dogs, metal detectors, searches of personal belongings and direct observation does not deter some visitors from attempting to smuggle drugs into prisons.
A woman visiting a prisoner at Wanganui Prison last week learnt the hard way that there are serious consequences for attempting to pass drugs to a prisoner.
The woman was observed by officers handing an item to the prisoner and staff were quick to intercept the package. When unwrapped it was found to contain 25 grams of cannabis leaf. Police were called immediately and the visitor was arrested.
“We have many measures in place to prevent contraband being brought into the prison – however we are realistic and don’t expect a single method to be foolproof. That is why we have a number of measures in place to detect contraband. The reality is some prisoners will exert all kinds of pressure on their partners, their parents and their friends to bring drugs into the prison for them and these people will go to great lengths to get them inside, says Acting Wanganui Prison Manager Hati Kaiwai
"That’s why we don't stop with a random vehicle search or presence of a drug dog. We screen visitors, search there bags and can search their person, we monitor them on camera's and have staff observing nearby, we use metal detectors, x- rays, prisoners are required to be in overalls and are searched after every visit and we use criminal intelligence gained from telephone monitoring and sources to target individuals.
“But drugs have such a stronghold on some prisoners that they will blackmail friends, threaten people with violence or send gang associates around to the family home to frighten or harm their partners. I’m saddened, but not surprised that some people choose to take the risk of being caught and arrested,” says Mr Kaiwai.
"The woman caught is likely to face charges laid by Police for attempting to bring drugs into a prison, and we have banned her from visiting the site for 12 months. This means the pressure is off her and she won’t be asked to bring drugs inside again for a long time. This is unfortunate as we place a lot of emphasis on our prisoners ability to maintain strong family ties and contact.
“If someone is being pressured by a prisoner to bring drugs inside, they should speak up. It may not be easy to do, and you may be afraid, but we will work with Police to ensure that you are safe. The reality is that if you don’t then you will continue to be pressured by prisoners until you are caught, arrested and face criminal charges of your own.”
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