Published Friday, 18 October 2013
Three visitors to the Co Antrim jail were detained on suspicion of trying to smuggle illegal substances on Thursday night in addition to 11 prisoners caught with drugs since 8 October.
One prisoner was found with class A drugs, three had class B, while two inmates are suspected of intending to supply class C drugs.
The figures were revealed as part of a joint initiative by the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the Police Service of Northern Ireland to tackle the problem of drugs smuggling within the prison.
The prison service is utilising intelligence, CCTV in addition to drug dogs to tighten their control on illicit drugs trading.
Governor Pat Maguire, who is overseeing the three-month pilot programme said drugs were a problem for a minority of the 1,000 people serving time at the prison.
"There are obviously issues with prisoners who take drugs, end up having side effects, they become dangerous and staff have to try and manage this," he said.
PSNI Chief Inspector Darrin Jones added that prisons were not "immune" from drug misuse which impacts on all areas of society.
"This is a unique opportunity for the Prison Service, the Police Service and other partners to work together in a concerted effort to reduce the supply and demand for drugs within Maghaberry," he explained.
Mr Maguire and Chief Inspector Jones stressed that as well clamping down on drugs and prosecuting offenders, the scheme will also educate prisoners on the dangers of drug abuse and offer alternative healthcare provision.
"With better education of staff and prisoners and partnership working with the PSNI to increase intelligence led searching, we are determined that the supply and misuse of drugs within the prison will be disrupted," Mr Maguire continued.
"However, where prisoners fail to avail of the educational and health support programmes available and instead choose to break the law, a dedicated PSNI resource will be on site to investigate."
As part of the scheme, a leading drugs education provider who has worked in partnership with the PSNI will provide drug awareness training to approximately 500 staff.
Previously, Prisoner Ombudsman reports had criticised the prison for "tolerating" drugs use following the death of two inmates.
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