A multi-agency operation targeting six prisons across Yorkshire and Kent has resulted in the arrest of ten visitors and four prisoners as well as the seizure of drugs and mobile phones.
The National Crime Agency (NCA)-led operation to disrupt the smuggling of contraband was conducted in partnership with Kent Police, South Yorkshire Police, Her Majesty’s Prison Service and the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Intelligence Unit.
In total, 68 officers were deployed at HMPs Lindholme, Hatfield and Moorland in South Yorkshire and 71 officers at HMPs Swaleside, Elmley and Standford Hill in Kent.
All visitors to the prisons on Thursday 22 May were searched for contraband and their vehicles swabbed to test for traces of drugs. This visitor-focused activity was then followed up by targeted searches of prison cells that same evening.
In Yorkshire, three people were arrested attempting to throw drugs over the walls into the prison, one arrested for attempting to smuggle a number of mobile phones and two arrested for other offences.
Four prisoners were arrested having been caught in possession of mobile phones, SIM cards, drugs or other prohibited items.
In Kent, three visitors were arrested on suspicion of attempting to supply drugs, one arrested for attempting to smuggle a mobile phone and six visitors were issued with fixed penalties for possession of drugs.
In all, more than 150 cars were swabbed for drugs resulting in 55 people being denied admission to visit prisoners.
Directing criminal activity
Caroline Young, the NCA’s deputy director of organised crime, commented: “We know that some of the serious and organised criminals we apprehend try to continue directing criminal activity from behind bars. Working together with partners, the NCA will relentlessly disrupt these individuals wherever they operate. That includes within the prison estate.”
Young added: “Today’s operation with South Yorkshire Police, Kent Police and HM Prison Service demonstrates a zero tolerance policy towards drugs and mobile phones in prison and sends a clear message to those in prison that they are never off our radar.”
In conclusion, Young stated: “We are now looking at the possibility of repeating this action elsewhere. Visitors to prisons need to remember that pison and NCA officers know where to look, and must ask themselves if it is really worth the risk.”
This latest operation supports the NCA’s commitment to the lifetime management of the highest risk serious and organised criminals. This involves tracking organised criminals into and beyond prison and working with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to actively manage the ongoing risk.
Detective Sergeant Nick Greenwood of Kent Police explained: “Officers from our prison intelligence unit continue to actively work to prevent and disrupt people smuggling contraband items into our prisons, and work closely alongside the Prison Service to ensure these establishments are as secure as possible.”
Greenwood also said: “Prisoners should not for one moment think that our agencies will turn a blind eye to illegal activity just because they are behind bars. We will work with every tool at our disposal to disrupt and deter prisoners and their associates from committing crimes.”
Rehabilitation of offenders
Paul Baker, the deputy director of custody for Yorkshire and Humberside Prisons, added: “Whenever drugs are entering prison establishments they undermine the good work which is taking place to rehabilitate offenders. Drugs cause violence and intimidation inside prison and obviously make it much harder for offenders to become drugfree.”
Baker asserted: “We believe that stopping drugs entering prisons, and therefore releasing people who are drug-free is an integral strand to cutting crime, reducing re-offending, making communities a safer place and in turn reducing the number of victims of crime. I welcome the opportunity to work with all law enforcement partners including the NCA and the police service to disrupt drug smuggling in prisons and hope there will be further opportunities to work together in the future.”