Revealed: What contraband goods have been seized in Suffolk’s prisons?
Hundreds of drugs, knives and phones have been confiscated in Suffolk prisons, amid a surge in the amount of contraband being found.
At Highpoint Prison in Stradishall, 102 knives were seized last year, up 155%, according to figures obtained by this newspaper from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
A psychoactive drug called Spice, which is a synthetic cannabis substitute, appears to have become the drug of choice amongst inmates with 131 seizures last year at Highpoint, up from 52 in 2015/16.
Officers also found 237 mobile phones and 176 chargers last year, while alcohol was seized 99 times.
At Hollesley Bay Prison, 88 mobile phones and 19 sim cards were found last year - a 60% increase - as well as one knife.
Drugs appear to be less of a problem at Hollesley with five Spice finds last year, three cannabis and two heroin discoveries.
It comes as the MoJ revealed the results of an operation to crack down on contraband behind bars.
The MoJ said it had invested £2million in detection equipment to stop illicit items getting into prisons.
From March last year to September this year officers found 349 phones and discovered spice 170 times at HMP Highpoint.
The MoJ said the recovery of these banned items would help thwart attempts by criminals to continue committing crime behind bars.
Recent riots and an increase in violence in prisons have led to criticism of cuts to guards and the prison service.
And Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association (POA), said: “These finds are just the tip of an iceberg. Our prisons are awash with drugs and illicit items because of Government year-on-year budget cuts.
“The POA believe we need to get back to at least staffing levels pre 2010.”
But the MoJ said it was “strengthening the frontline” with 2,500 additional prison officers by 2018.
Contraband has been brought into prisons through drones, being thrown over walls, by visitors and by new prisoners.
In April this year two men, Remo White-Chandler and Romaine Gayle, were jailed for six and four years respectively for using a drone to get contraband into three prisons, including HMP Highpoint.
What the Government says
Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah revealed on Monday that drugs had been seized 750 times from March last year to September this year in five prisons in Suffolk and Norfolk.
He said: “I am determined to stem the flow of drugs into our prisons and transform establishments into places of safety and reform and we are doing all we can to invest so that our hardworking prison officers have the right tools to do the job.
“These figures highlight the determination of prison staff to disrupt this behaviour, while sending a clear message that we will not tolerate this kind of activity.
“Those who peddle drugs in an attempt to thwart reform should face the full force of the law, which means a police investigation and extra time behind bars.
“I want to pay tribute to the staff at these prisons for their efforts and dedication to preventing contraband from getting into their prisons, which we know has a detrimental impact on stability and progress.”