herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Deadly prison 'shivs' used in jail drug wars

A collection of confiscated weapons from Mountjoy Prison
A collection of confiscated weapons from Mountjoy Prison

A FRIGHTENING array of makeshift knives and other contraband was put on display by the Irish Prison Service as it launched a new phone line to help combat illegal smuggling of banned items into jails.

Prison bosses yesterday showed many of the drugs that have been confiscated, as well as shivs that prisoners use to inflict injuries on each other in jailhouse drug wars.

Tiny mobile phones built into car key fobs that are smuggled internally into jails and used to organise drug deliveries were also on display.

The Prison Service has launched the free confidential phone line to help combat the illegal trafficking of drugs into prisons.

More than 70pc of the people who are admitted to jail have a drug addiction problem, and as a result of limited supply narcotics have become a killer currency which inmates and drug gangs will use violence to control.

A wrap of heroin that costs €20 on a Dublin street is worth €100 behind prison walls.

Director General of the Irish Prison Service, Michael Donnellan, said inmate's families are often pressured into facilitating the supply of drugs into jails.

"Drugs kill in prisons and cause devastation in a prison environment. Each and every year we have at least two or three drug overdoses.

"There is a myth out there that drugs in prison can keep people calm, but they actually do the opposite - they drive mental ill-health, they drive crime and criminality, and drive violence," Mr Donnellan added.

He said prescription drugs are now more sought after by inmates than before, and that traditional methods of getting drugs into prisons such as throwing them over the walls have now been increasingly replaced by drugs being smuggled internally in body cavities by visitors.

He said the new phone line will help prisoners, and let them know that "they are not alone, they can talk to us and we will do everything in our power to help them".

The phone line, 1800 855 717, is open daily from 8am to 8pm and will be operated on a similar basis to the 'crimebusters' hotline run by the Garda Siochana.

Calls received outside these hours will be redirected to an answering machine.

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