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Zero tolerance delivering results on contraband

Zero tolerance delivering results on contraband

Corrections Minister Phil Goff today released figures showing the number of people prosecuted for drug possession in prison has increased by nearly 36 per cent since 2003.

“This result shows the increased intensity and success of the Department’s efforts to enforce a zero tolerance towards contraband in prison,” Phil Goff said.

“While convictions are going up, there is strong evidence that access to and use of drugs in prison is declining as a consequence.

“Positive random drug tests have fallen significantly from 34 per cent in 1998 to a current rate of around 14 per cent, suggesting that drug use in prisons has halved over the last decade.

“These figures show that we are getting better at finding those who smuggle drugs into and use drugs in prison, and bringing a criminal prosecution against them. This has helped significantly reduce the amount of drug taking in prisons.

“The Department has invested heavily in recent years to improve physical security to stop contraband getting into the prison system – including constructing about 18 kilometres of high security perimeter fencing, installing detection and surveillance systems, introducing single points-of-entry at 65 per cent of all prisons and regular checkpoints to screen visitors,” Phil Goff said.

“Since 2004, the number of drug dogs has doubled to 12 and they are regularly and successfully used at checkpoints to check vehicles and people as well as searching prison grounds and cells.

“Corrections has also recently implemented its Crime Prevention Information Capability (CPIC). CPIC is focussed on gathering intelligence on criminal activities, including smuggling of contraband. It has already proved successful, such as the use of telephone call monitoring, which has identified and stopped potential criminal activity by prisoners.

“Stopping contraband entering prison is only part of the answer and Corrections is also focussed on dealing with prisoner demand,” Phil Goff said.

“Prisoners have a high rate of drug dependency when they enter prison and therefore there is a big demand for drugs in prison. To address this demand Drug Treatment Units have been established at Waikeria, Arohata, Christchurch, Hawke’s Bay and Rimutaka Prison. A sixth Drug Treatment Unit will open at the Spring Hill Corrections Facility later in the year.

“The Department will continue to use the full extent of the law to prosecute any person found with drugs in their possession,” Phil Goff said.

“The Government is working to further strengthen Corrections’ ability to stop contraband entering prison through the Corrections Amendment Bill.

“The Bill enhances the search powers of Corrections Officers and increases penalties both for those found to be supplying prisoners with contraband and prisoners found in possession of contraband,” Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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