Contraband in prisons

Contraband in prisons includes alcohol, communication devices, drugs, drug paraphernalia, tattoo equipment, weapons and other items.  Items that are prohibited may include everyday and seemingly innocent items that while not illegal, may be used inappropriately by prisoners.  Tobacco and smoking equipment (e.g. lighters) have been considered contraband from 1 July 2011, when smoking was banned in all prisons.

Corrections currently employs a range of screening methods to prevent contraband from entering prisons and intelligence staff work to identify and mitigate risk areas in the physical environment and to stay informed about new methods of concealment.

Contraband is reported in the following categories:

  • Drugs - notifiable, such as suspected cannabis leaf greater than 20 grams or tablets or powders suspected to be illicit drugs
  • Drugs - non-notifiable, such as the smell or other indication of drugs or suspected drugs that were tested and confirmed as not being drugs
  • Drugs paraphernalia including smoking devices and needles
  • Communication device such as a cell phone or SIM card
  • Weapons, including improvised weapons or instructions for making them and hobby tools outside of authorised areas
  • Alcohol, either home brew or commercial or related items
  • Tattoo equipment including needles and ink
  • Other, including money, gang paraphernalia, prescription medicines and tobacco.

The statistics include contraband items confiscated from prisoners or visitors, and any items found on prison property but not directly linked to an individual. Note that where multiple items are found is a single search they will be reported as a single incident if they all fall within the same category.  Alternatively, if contraband from different categories is found, it will be reported as an incident under each relevant category.

Data set for total number of items of contraband - national and by prison, including type of contraband

Download contraband data: