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Joint NIPS/PSNI partnership to tackle drugs at Maghaberry

The Northern Ireland Prison Service and the Police Service of Northern Ireland have embarked on major joint initiative to reduce the drug supply within Maghaberry Prison
Friday, 18 October 2013

The initiative between the Maghaberry Prison Governor Pat Maguire and Lisburn Area PSNI Commander, Chief Inspector Darrin Jones has three cross-cutting strands, namely Education, Encouragement and Enforcement, and will include an intensive drugs awareness programme, delivered by an external provider, for up to 500 staff at the prison.

The key objectives of the initiative are;

· To educate staff, prisoners and visitors on drugs awareness and the consequences of taking and dealing in drugs.

· To provide alternatives to drugs by way of healthcare intervention and support.

· To enhance prison safety through increased seizures of drugs.

· To apply criminal justice sanctions to those who misuse illegal drugs while in prison.

· Reassure the community that drugs issues are being dealt with in partnership by criminal justice partners.

In announcing the development Chief Inspector Jones said: “Drugs misuse is a problem which impacts largely on society and, unfortunately, prisons are not immune from it and the hardships that are brought about by it. This is a unique opportunity for the Prison Service, the Police Service and other partners to work together in a concerted effort to reduce the supply and demand for drugs within Maghaberry.”

Mr Maguire and Chief Inspector Jones were keen however to stress that the initiative is about much more than finding drugs and seeking prosecutions.

Mr Maguire said: “This is also about education and support – educating prisoners on the dangers of drugs abuse and offering alternative healthcare provision to those prisoners who have become dependent on drugs.

“With better education of staff and prisoners and partnership working with the PSNI to increase intelligence led searching, we are determined that the supply and misuse of drugs within the prison will be disrupted.

“However, where prisoners fail to avail of the educational and health support programmes available and instead choose to break the law, a dedicated PSNI resource will be on site to investigate.”

A leading drugs education provider who has worked in partnership with the PSNI will provide drug awareness training to approximately 500 staff and a drugs and alcohol information pack will be provided to prisoners on release.

The programme will initially run for a three months period (6 October – 31 December 2013) after which there will be an initial evaluation and audit of ongoing progress.

Notes to editors

1. The key strands of the partnership which will be addressed during the initial three months programme are;

· 3 hours training for 400/500 staff;

· Drug awareness education for prisoners;

· Literature for prisoners upon release;

· Literature for visitors warning of the harm caused by drug smuggling;

· Additional PSNI resources;

· The depositing of chain of custody and evidence bags in all areas of the Prison;

· A protocol to seek prosecutions for all drug seizures over the three month period;

· Targeting of high risk prisoners on visits;

· An increase in intelligence-led searching.

2. The following partners will assist the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in the delivery of the programme; Public Prosecution Service (PPS), Ascert Training, South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust (SET), Opportunity Youth/Adept

3. A multi-agency working project has been established to drive the programme.

4. For media enquiries please contact NIPS Press Office 028 9052 0938 or out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.