Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 252 - Drugs in prisons [19657/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 252 - Drugs in prisons [19657/15]. (19 May 2015)

252. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent of drugs, including tablets, obtained in recent drugs searches in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin 7. [19657/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that for the period 01 February 2015 to 14 May 2015, 117 searches were carried out in Mountjoy Prison. 42 seizures of drugs were made over the course of these searches.


The Irish Prison Service, while loosely classifying materials seized as drugs (i.e. tablets, powder, etc.), is not in a position to state if any of these items are illegal drugs as no conclusive testing is conducted on substances found within the prison. The total for items confiscated includes perimeter security searches.


The Director General of the Irish Prison Service assures me that preventing the access of contraband into prisons remains a high priority. Efforts are made on a continuous basis to prevent the flow of drugs into our prisons, by for example, the installation of nets over exercise yards, vigilant observation of prisoners by staff, enhanced CCTV monitoring, the stricter control of visits and the use of targeted and random cell searches on a daily basis. As well as this the introduction of passive and active drug detection dogs and the installation of airport style security including scanners and x-ray machines has helped efforts to tackle the problem. Random searches of cells and their occupants have uncovered significant quantities of contraband in recent years.


Nevertheless, the Irish Prison Service recognises that constant improvements are required in this area.  The Director General recently announced additional security measures aimed a further enhancing the security of our prisons including:


The introduction of a new free confidential telephone line which will be operational in June. Anyone with information on the trafficking of prohibited items into our prisons will be able to pass on that information in confidence.


The increasing of the number of passive and active dogs which are operational in all prisons. There are currently 8 passive dogs in training with a further 10 active dogs to begin training shortly. This will increase the Canine Unit to 39 dog teams.


The introduction of standard searching procedures for all persons entering our prisons.

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