It’s all in a day’s work for detector dog teams at Rimutaka Prison.

This week, the team were checking incoming mail/prisoner property on Wednesday when drug dog Oscar indicated on a piece of art work.

Staff discovered that the painting had a hollow back, and inside found a cellphone, charger, eight grams of cannabis, eight grams of tobacco, matches and cigarette papers.

“Oscar and the team did a fantastic job at picking this up,” says Prison Director, Viv Whelan.

“Prisoners are always looking for new ways to try to smuggle contraband into the prison and we work really hard to prevent that from happening.”

We use a range of methods, including regular targeted and random searches of prison perimeters, cells, mail and visitors; detector dog teams; x-ray technology and telephone monitoring of prisoners’ calls, to prevent contraband from getting in to prison and stamp out opportunities for organised crime.

If prisoners are in possession of contraband, it can pose a serious risk to the safety of other prisoners and our staff and prevent prisoners from fully engaging in rehabilitation interventions.

“The items found in the painting have now been passed on to Police for investigation,” says Ms Whelan.  “I hope that this sends a clear message to those who do try to test the boundaries. The sender may face criminal prosecution, and could be banned from visiting the prison.”

“I’m very proud of the vigilance and professionalism shown by the team,” says Ms Whelan. “There are very real consequences for introducing contraband to prison and we will continue to work with Police to ensure those involved are held to account.”