I recently read an article in one of the national rags about how a certain prisoner had been made to take his glass eye out in order for officers to check whether he had any drugs stashed inside. You might find that quite shocking in itself, but that isn’t even the bit that grabbed my attention.
The bit that caught my eye, so to speak, was where it said that a source at Strangeways prison had told that paper “This isn’t one of those prisons you can pick up a bag of booze and drugs your mate threw over the wall. It’s a Cat A nick and the only way you are getting drugs in is through a visitor.” Really? The only way?
You see, I’ve been in quite a few prisons, of various security categories, and I’ve seen the kind of places where you can get things thrown over the wall. And this source is right. In Cat A nicks, that simply isn’t possible. But generally speaking, drugs in Cat A prisons don’t come in through visits either. That’s more your middle of the road jails. In Cat A’s, most of the drugs come in via staff.
Think about it. In Cat A prisons you get searched going on and coming off the visit. All Cat A prisoners are strip searched. Cat B prisoners in a Cat A jail are strip searched around a ten percent rate (although Frankland continues to strip search 100% of Cat B prisoners despite being ordered not to). And the visitors are all searched too. In Cat A prisons there are more staff both in the visits room and watching the cameras than there are in lower category jails, and sniffer dogs are used routinely where, in some lower category prisons, this isn’t the case. It isn’t impossible to get drugs in on a visit (or anything else for that matter), but it is a big risk. No, I have personally witnessed staff bringing things in for prisoners on more than one occasion because although they have hoops to jump through when entering the establishment too, they are far less likely to get caught than visitors.
The fact is, as long as you have anyone coming into a jail from the outside, whether staff or visitor, there will always be drugs coming in too.