Plans to combat supply of drugs over prison walls

PRISON bosses are planning to address persistent problems regarding the supply of drugs over jail walls and the lack of security cameras in key prisons.

The Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly said that both issues affected prisons such as Cork, Limerick, St Patrick’s Institution, Wheatfield and Mountjoy.

Given the much-publicised installation of security measures across the prison system in recent years — including airport scanners at point of entry, search teams and canine units — these older problems have continued to dog the system.

Judge Reilly identified drug security shortcomings in a number of prisons:

nThere are no nets over the yards in Dóchas Women’s Prison, which he said had a serious and worsening drugs problem.

nA source of supply into St Patrick’s Institution for Young Offenders is over the perimeter wall.

A spokesman for the Prison Service said they were “currently engaged in an upgrade and expansion of existing netting services”.

He said tenders were received last month for an “extensive programme of horizontal netting” across yards in Cork, Limerick, Cloverhill, Wheatfield, Dóchas and St Patrick’s Institution.

He said that four of the yards in Mountjoy were covered with horizontal netting last summer and that a separate tender for the refurbishment of the C base at Mountjoy also included netting of the remaining yards at Mountjoy.

Judge Reilly highlighted the lack of CCTV security cameras as a concern, not least in a bid to monitor and respond to security issues, including violence and disturbances.

The inspector mentioned Cork, St Pat’s, Limerick, Mountjoy and Wheatfield as not having enough cameras. He said there were insufficient cameras in Limerick where “inter prisoner violence is a problem”.

The lack of cameras was a serious issue in Mountjoy where, he said, inter-prisoner violence is “endemic”.

The Prison Service spokesman said a “significant upgrade” to camera facilities to St Pat’s has since taken place.

He added: “The Irish Prison Service are currently in the process of tendering for supply of CCTV equipment for deployment in 2011 across all prisons but with an emphasis on those prisons referred to by the Inspector.”

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