New detection machines are finding drugs such as fentanyl being smuggled into prisons after being sprayed onto letters, newspapers and other items sent through the post.
The volume of drugs found on post, parcels, and prisoner clothing sent in using the postal system has increased due to the suspension of visits to jails due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The drug-tainted items, if received, are then smoked, with the Irish Prison Service warning that substances such as fentanyl and W18 detected on postal items are dangerous and pose a "significant risk" to inmates if taken.
The amount of contraband seized in prisons this year appears to have increased, despite all physical visits to prisons being suspended from March 27 to July 20, and for a second time from October 6.
Figures provided by the Prison Service to theshow that in the first 10 months of this year there had been 1,008 drug seizures and 967 mobile phones confiscated, as well as 255 weapons and almost 300 litres of alcohol, or 'hooch'.
The Prison Service said that in addition to attempts to smuggle drugs in through the postal system, there has also been a marked rise in 'throw-overs' into prison areas from outside. However, with increased staff provision to facilitate video link visits, there are more patrols and a higher level of detection.
The prison service is developing a new drugs strategy and using technology such as drugs-trace detection machines to identify the tainted items.
A spokesman for the IPS said it was analysing the data from the first 10 months of the year and exploring international best practice on how best to combat the drug supply into jails during the pandemic.