Prison officers seize 3,500 weapons

More than 3,500 makeshift daggers and other deadly weapons were seized by prison officers working in jails during the past five years — an average of two every day.

Last year alone, 435 weapons were recovered from inmates serving time in the State’s 14 prisons.

The most commonly seized weapons are makeshift daggers, typically fashioned from blades or sharpened objects attached to small handles made from toothbrushes or pens. Easily concealed, they potentially can be used to cause catastrophic injuries.

A total of 3,687 weapons were seized in prisons between 2012 and 2016, averaging 14 per week over the five-year period.

However, the number has significantly reduced in recent years as the Irish Prison Service continues to take steps steps to combat contraband entering the system.

In 2012, 1,126 weapons were recovered throughout the prison network, but the number has fallen in each of the intervening years to a five-year low of 435 in 2016.

Last year, the largest quantity of deadly weapons was seized from inmates at Wheatfield Prison in Dublin, where 104 lethal items were confiscated.

Earlier this month, a state-of-the-art drone crash-landed on the roof of Wheatfield Prison after being used to smuggle contraband into the exercise yard.

At Castlerea Prison in Roscommon, 89 blades and other items were confiscated and at Limerick Prison 69 weapons were seized.

The Irish Prison Service said extensive efforts have been introduced to reduce the flow of contraband including dedicated staff, security screening, a canine unit, increased searching of cells and occupants and the installation of nets over exercise yards.


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