Prison service warns of children used in drug smuggling

Prison service warns of children used in drug smuggling

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) has expressed concerns about the use of children by gangs who are smuggling drugs and contraband into prison.

The agency has launched a new confidential phone line following reports that criminal gangs are inserting drugs into children in order to smuggle them through prison screening processes and past police dogs.

The IPS has also said that as many as 70 per cent of offenders coming into prison have an existing drug addiction, creating significant demand for illegal drugs in the prison system.

The gangs are said to have a sophisticated system in place to allow inmates to pay for drugs and other contraband through family and friends.

Ben Buckley, chief officer of the IPS operational support group, told the Irish Examiner: “One of our biggest concerns is the use of children for smuggling drugs into prison - that is, when children are used to bring drugs internally.

“Unfortunately you have some minors that are almost trained and coached in how to get drugs into a prison.

“One could say they are doing it voluntarily, but they are children.”

Mr Buckley described one instance in which a 12-year-old was forced to take drugs into prison by two criminals.

Mr Buckley explained: “We had a case last year where a 12-year-old child and her mother were on their way to prison. The car was pulled in and two people intervened. They inserted the drugs inside the child. She was brought into the visit by her mother. The mother removed the drugs and handed them over.”

Members of the public are urged to phone 1800 855 717 with information of any similar crimes.

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