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Corrections Seizes More Contraband

12 April 2006

Corrections Seizes More Contraband

Tougher contraband detection measures has meant the number of prohibited items (contraband) confiscated from prison visitors has more than doubled in the last three years, a great result for Corrections, says National Systems and Security Manager Karen Urwin.

In response to public interest, Corrections collated the amount of contraband confiscated from each of its 19 prisons, giving a comprehensive picture of the situation.

1509 items were confiscated from prison visitors in 2005, up from 698 in 2003. Drugs and drug-related equipment accounts for the majority of seizures at checkpoints with 1061 items confiscated from visitors in 2005.

“Increased surveillance at checkpoints and within prisons using drug dogs, television monitoring in visitor areas, scanning equipment and random searches has boosted contraband finds,” says Ms Urwin. The number of drug-dog teams has doubled since 2004 and last year the Government allocated a further $4.1 million over four years for crime and drug detection within prisons.

“In spite of tough penalties and a much greater chance of getting caught, people seem more determined than ever to get prohibited items into prisons, with 311 drug or drug-related utensil confiscations from visitors in the first two months of 2006,“ says Ms Urwin.

Prisoners are randomly drug-tested. 17 percent of more than 3000 random drug tests were positive in the 2004/05 year, down from 25.5 percent in 1988/89.

“This shows our success in containing the use of drugs within prisons, although it would be naive to suggest we can stamp drug use out altogether, though we certainly try,” Ms Urwin says.

Prisoner drug use trends tend to follow those of society at large. Cannabis remains the most frequently detected drug; although an increase in amphetamine-type drugs detected show that attempts to use this type of drug are rising.

The number of cellphones detected has risen four-fold since 2003, when 252 cellphones, chargers or SIM cards were confiscated from visitors or found on prison premises. In 2005, that number rose to 1047.

"The size of mobile phones makes it tempting to try to get them into prison, but our detection rates are still very high," says Ms Urwin.

“Anyone entering a prison - staff, contractors, suppliers and the general public risk being searched for contraband.

“We take the smuggling of contraband very seriously as it impacts on the safety and security of the prison, staff and prisoners. Our confidential and anonymous free-phone number 0800 JAIL SAFE is for prisoners, visitors and anyone else to share information. We urge people to contact us and we’ll act on it,” says Ms Urwin.


All contraband is confiscated. Drug finds are reported to the Police who take the drugs as evidence. Items can be handed to the Police, returned to the owner with a caution, or destroyed.


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