Police crackdown on illegal items during week of action at Doncaster jails

A week-long operation between police and aimed at preventing illegal items from entering three of Doncaster’s prisons has been launched today.

Thursday, 11th April 2019, 15:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th April 2019, 15:59 pm
HMP Lindholme is one of three prisons taking part in the week-long operation to tackle illegal items

South Yorkshire Police, security staff at HMP Doncaster, Lindholme and Moorland and representatives from Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service are joining forces this week in a crackdown on prohibited items either being brought into or inside the prison.

Officers will be carrying out extensive searches during the seven-day operation in a bid to disrupt organised crime groups with members still operating despite being behind bars.

HMP Doncaster is one of three prisons taking part in the week-long operation to tackle illegal items

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Detective Inspector Steve Smith, who leads Doncaster’s Fortify team, said the objective of the operation is to ‘starve’ prisoners of illicit items such as mobile phones and drugs which are currently causing problems in prison.

He said: “We will be tackling the four main ways that illicit items can get into our prisons, and that’s either by way of posting items to prisoners, coming over the wall, being brought in through visits and also by staff members.

“To do this we will be utilising a number of South Yorkshire Police resources. Our off road bike team, alongside prison resources and guards, police dogs and the South Yorkshire Police mounted section will all be patrolling the perimeter of prison.

“It will also be the first time we are using South Yorkshire Police drone technology to monitor the perimeter fencing.

“We have alerted every single member of staff and have told the prisoners themselves so we can achieve our objective and stop the illicit items.”

The operation is the first of its kinds, spanning across seven days and encompassing the three principal jails in Doncaster.

Similar operations have previously been hailed a success, resulting in numerous arrests and sentences for those caught conveying items.

Det Insp Smith added: “The use of mobile phones and drugs are a fairly constant issue in prison. The issue we’re concerned about is the effects they are having inside the prison. Phones and drugs allow for continued criminality and can lead to increasing violence and bullying.

“We are committed to doing whatever we can to reduce the acts of violence against prisoners and staff.”

Jerry Spencer, Prison Director at HMP Doncaster which is run by Serco, praised the ‘strong' working relationship between police and prison staff.

He said: “We are sending that strong message to the general public that bringing illicit items into prison is not on.

“As prison director I can say that we do have a problem with illicit items such as mobile phones and drugs which undermine our security and make it unsafe not only for prisoners but our staff too and that brings misery to the prison.

“We are also sending the strong message to prisoners and out to staff. We’ve had a small number of crook staff who have been caught conveying items and have been sentenced.

“The message is that it won’t be tolerated and we’ll catch you with the help of the police. Ultimately they’ll end up on the wrong side of the bars.”