REGIONAL Prisons Intelligence Unit of the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU) and Tarian has been working in close collaboration with South Wales prisons to step up enforcement on the illegal supply of drugs into prisons.
Most recently, a series of pre-planned intelligence led operations between HMP Parc and the police have resulted in 13 people being arrested in connection with supplying psychoactive substances and conspiracy to supply cannabis and other prohibited articles into prison.
One significant intervention took place after intelligence shared by staff at HMP Parc led to the arrest of visitors attempting to pass drugs to prisoners. Those arrested were vulnerable women being influenced by other parties, and joint work with the Regional Prisons Intelligence Unit (RPIU) linked these individuals to an organised crime group in the West Midlands.
On 17 November 2020, a warrant was issued in the Birmingham area, resulting in further arrests and numerous digital devices and drug paraphernalia items being recovered. Due to how they were packaged, the items appeared to also be intended for illegal supply into prison. £3,500 in cash and a high value car were also recovered.
In a separate operation between HMP Parc and the RPIU, an estimated £19,000 worth of drugs were seized – these were in the form of four letters addressed to prisoners, which had been laced with psychoactive substances. A police investigation traced the bundles back to the senders, and later resulted in two women and one man being arrested in Newport on 26 November 2020.
Assistant Chief Constable David Thorne said: “Drugs have a detrimental effect on the rehabilitation of offenders. They increase debt, increase violence and can result in offenders continuing to be addicted when leaving the prison environment, leading to an increased risk of reoffending.
It is only by continuing to work in close partnership with the prison authorities that we can prevent the trafficking of drugs, phones and other prohibited items into prisons.
“Such activity represents a callous exploitation of, and overt intention to benefit financially from, existing vulnerabilities within the prison population.
“The proactive, and collaborative pursuit of those who involved in this type of organised criminal activity will ensure that we achieve our joint goals of developing a safer prison environment which is more conducive to rehabilitation and to protect more effectively the vulnerable within our prison population.
“By effectively tackling organised crime groups such as these, we can bring those responsible for perpetrating the continued supply of drugs into prisons before the courts and disrupt the pernicious trade of drugs to those who are already in a vulnerable position.”
Janet Wallsgrove, Director of HMP & YOI Parc, said: “Organised criminal groups will go to great lengths to pursue profits through supplying illicit articles into prison, all of which inhibit safety, stability and ultimately rehabilitation.”
“The safety of those at HMP Parc is our primary concern and these recent operations are fantastic examples of how multi-agency work can tackle illegal activity and result in safer communities inside and outside of custody.”