Joint Operation Targets Smuggling And Contraband At Prison, Leeds.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Drugs, cash, weapons and illicit ‘hooch’ were among the items recovered when police and prison staff joined forces for an operation to target smuggling and contraband at a Leeds prison.

Operation Dragshot, which was led by Leeds District Prison Crime Team, saw officers working alongside security staff at HMP Wealstun together with specialist officers and detection dogs from the Prison Service’s Yorkshire Prison Group Search Team.

The operation, which ran from Tuesday to Thursday last week, was also supported by officers from Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit, the Leeds North East Neighbourhood Policing Team, and West Yorkshire Police Operational Support, including the Roads Policing Unit and Mounted Section.

The initiative saw searches of visitors, staff and contractors entering the prison site, and as a result of the checks some individuals were refused entry to the prison.

Specially-trained search teams also performed intelligence-led checks on cells and communal areas within the prison.

Proactive patrols of the surrounding area were carried out by mounted officers supported by drones to deter and disrupt incidents where packages are thrown over the fence.

Roads policing units patrolled the surrounding road network to identify and stop any vehicles acting suspiciously or believed to be involved in crime linked to the prison site.

Officers from the Serious Organised Crime Unit were based in the prison’s CCTV control room to assist in identifying suspicious activity during visits.

Items recovered during the operation included multiple quantities of cannabis; bags of white powder believed to be Class A drugs; crack pipes; cannabis grinders; tobacco; 70 litres of prohibited liquids (hooch); set of scales; razor blades; adapted offensive weapon; multiple vape refills; large quantify of cash; prohibited papers.

Detective Superintendent Jaz Khan, Head of Crime for Leeds District, said: “There are very clear links between the supply of drugs, phones and other contraband into prisons and organised criminality that damages our communities.

“The supply of drugs and other items fuels violence and creates debts which gives those behind it opportunities to exploit other prisoners and even their families. The illegal use of mobile phones allows organised criminals to directly maintain their operations on the outside.

“Through the work of Leeds District Prison Crime Team we have an excellent partnership with the prison authorities locally. This operation demonstrates how we are working together effectively to tackle these issues that can be damaging to prison life and present significant risks both to staff and inmates.

“We hope Operation Dragshot will send a strong deterrent message to those who think they can get away with trying to smuggle items into prisons.

“We will continue to work closely in partnership with our colleagues in the Prison Service to conduct similar operations at HMP Wealstun and other prison sites in the Leeds district in the future.”

The Governor of HMP Wealstun Diane Lewis added “We are always looking at new ways to disrupt the criminal gangs who target vulnerable individuals within HMP Wealstun. This operation has given us the opportunity to build on our already excellent links with West Yorkshire Police.

“It is amazing to see the capability that the police specialist search units bring when working alongside the Wealstun and the HMPPS Yorkshire Prison Group Search Teams. The results were impressive and I look forward to this becoming a regular initiative.”

Ministry of Justice Guidance Note:

The government has also pledged an extra £100m to boost security and safety across the prison estate to stop drugs, weapons and mobile phones getting in so we can protect staff and cut violence.

Also announced last month the £2.5 billion long-term building programme will provide 10,000 additional prison places - reducing overcrowding and creating a prison estate that is fit for the future.

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