Jail blitz as 1,700 phones seized last year alone
THERE were over 1,700 mobile phone seizures in Irish prisons last year.
The finds represent a decrease of 21pc or 456 phones on 2009 seizures, with the Irish Prison Service claiming they are winning the war on phone smuggling.
The use of phones by inmates hit the headlines last year when two female inmates at the Dochas Centre were caught sending lewd pictures of themselves to men in exchange for money.
The controversy was sparked after raunchy images of convicted killer Lindsey Fahy and Limerick drugs convict Kim Fahy inside the facilities came to light.
A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service said there were a number of measures in place to stop illegal contraband -- including phones -- entering Irish jails. These include:
- The introduction of enhanced security screening for all visitors and staff entering prisons
- The establishment of a drug detection dog service involving around 26 handling teams
- The establishment of operational support units dedicated to developing expertise in searching and gathering intelligence on illicit material being hidden inside prisons; they will be available in addition to the normal prison staff
- The introduction of Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS) chairs for the searching of prisoners on entering/leaving the prison
- The erecting of netting over exercise yards in closed prisons to counteract phones being thrown over perimeter walls.
"Other preventative measures include cell and area searches for contraband such as mobile phones which take place in all prisons on a daily basis," the spokesman said.
"These include random, targeted and intelligence led searches.
"Searches have been particularly effective and local intelligence indicates the availability of mobile phones has decreased across the prison system.
"This is borne in the fact that the figure for 2010 show that the seizures of mobile phones have decreased by 456 or 21pc on the 2009 figure."
Gang bosses who are serving times in Irish prisons use the phones to direct gang activities including organising drug shipments and ordering hits on rival gangsters.
Under the Prisons Act 2007, an inmate stands to receive stiff penalties if caught with a mobile behind bars.