Limiting footpath access could reduce prison contraband

PUBLISHED: 08:39 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:58 04 December 2017

HMP Wayland Prison. Picture: Ian Burt

HMP Wayland Prison. Picture: Ian Burt

Bosses at Wayland Prison are proposing to restrict access to a footpath next to the jail to cut down on drugs and weapons being thrown in from the outside.

Proposals to install a locked gate on Manor Road, Griston, near Watton, were discussed at a meeting of the parish council, on Monday, November 27.

Parish council chairman, David Barnett, speaking after the meeting, said: “Nothing was decided, but the decision will be made by the prison governors.

“A dozen or so villagers turned up and voiced their opinions.

“The mood was understanding. It was an open discussion for the villages to take part in.

“Everyone seemed happy with the proposals. There were some provisos.

“We hope if it doesn’t prove effective that they will take it down rather than leave it there.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that the prison is in discussions with the parish council about installing a gate to the footpath.

Glyn Travis, from the Prison Officers’ Association (POA), said the proposal included a code to the gate which all local residents would have access to.

It would be monitored by prison officers and given to dog walkers and local residents.

Mr Travis added that he didn’t think the measure would be sufficient to deter throwovers of drugs or weapons into the prison.

He said: “Knowing criminals as I do, I assume that they will find alternative means. They’ll get the code to the gate, or they’ll use drones.”

MoJ figures, published in November 2017, revealed a serious problem with contraband found inside HMP Wayland.

The number of knives found at the prison had trebled to 130 in 2016/17.

Alcohol was seized from prisoners 137 times throughout this period, while the drug spice, a form of synthetic cannabis, was found on 98 occasions.

A total of 144 SIM cards were also seized last year, in comparison to just 34 two years ago.

When asked about these figures by the EDP earlier this month, the general secretary of the POA, Steve Gillan, said that prisons were in crisis.

He said: “These finds are just the tip of an iceberg.

“Our prisons are awash with drugs and illicit items because of government year-on-year cuts.

“The POA believe we need to get back staffing levels pre-2010.”

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