Prison crackdown on drugs and mobiles

Aylesbury Young Offenders' Institute
Aylesbury Young Offenders' Institute

Bosses at the Aylesbury Young Offenders’ Institute have led a successful crackdown on the smuggling of drugs and mobile phones into the prison, figures obtained by The Bucks Herald reveal.

In 2010/11, a total of 297 mobile phones or SIM cards were seized at the institute, a figure which was reduced to 36 by 2012/13, statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

There has also been a drop in the number of incidents of drugs being seized, down from 27 in 2010/11 to eight in 2012/13.

Prison governor Kevin Leggett says the crackdown is largely due to putting wire mesh over cell windows so prisoners could not reel in packages containing phones and drugs that were being thrown over the walls.

Mr Leggett said: “The packages had some sort of barb on them. The prisoners would throw out something to catch on it and get it up into their cell.”

The governor said as well as being illegal, mobile phones pose a ‘serious risk’.

He said: “They assist with the supply of drugs and how they’re brought into the jail. Because they’re a commodity they get rented out by prisoners and that leads to bullying and violence, which is a huge problem.”

Mr Leggett said prison officers have mobile phone detectors and have recently been given the power to use signal blockers to prevent inmates from using those that are smuggled in.

A Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons report published this year claimed too many prisoners find it easy to get drugs in the prison, but the governor disagrees with this.

He said: “We would tend to take a view that it’s reasonably difficult to get it in because of the methods we use.”

Other figures obtained by the Herald reveal prison officers used batons on prisoners three times in 2010/11, seven times in 11/12 and five times in 12/13. Batons were drawn but not used 18 times in 10/11, seven times in 11/12 and 11 times in 2012/13.

The inspectorate said it was concerned by the high use of batons at the prison, but Mr Leggett said he did not think the figures were exceptional.

He said: “My staff do a difficult job with a difficult group of people.

“The figures are quite low considering the environment.”