West Midlands Police, alongside the National Crime Agency (NCA), descended on HMP Birmingham this morning (Tuesday 5th February) in a bid to target the supply of contraband at the prison in Winson Green.
In an unannounced inspection this morning, police officers, NCA officers and prison security staff screened over 400 prison employees for contraband items as they arrived for work, reinforcing the seriousness and potential consequences of this type of crime.
Between 6 – 9am, staff were required to go through additional screening including a metal detector, a passive drug dog search as well as a property and physical search before they could access the building.
A significant amount of contraband items were recovered including:
- prescription drugs
- phone chargers
- portable power packs
- sim cards
- sprays and lotions
- E-cigarette liquids
- food wrapped in aluminium foil
Ladywood West Constituency manager, Inspector Clem Samuels explained: “The flow of contraband into prisons is well documented and will always be a challenge as new and ever inventive ways of secreting goods into the premises evolves. However we will not be complacent and we have joined forces with the prison and a number of groups and organisations who work with HMP Birmingham and the inmates to pool our knowledge and work together to tackle areas of criminality.
“We meet regularly to discuss emerging issues and work out ways to address them, not least of these being how to make the prison a safer environment for prisoners and staff, and increasing their confidence to report illegal activity.
“Our action today has seen a large quantity of contraband items brought into the prison, much of which will lead to internal investigations and possible further action, however the vast majority of staff welcomed today’s action and confirmed they would welcome more checks in the future.”
Governor of HMP Birmingham Paul Newton added: “Following an unannounced inspection by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons a number of critical concerns were identified. A better grasp of reporting and pursuing convictions to incidents of crime committed in the prison, including staff corruption, was highlighted.
“Following a series of meetings a close working relationship has been forged with West Midlands Police and this partnership has resulted in a number of successful operations targeting criminality.
“Today’s operation is another example of how the visible policing presence has significantly contributed to the detection of corrupt activity, whilst at the same time, positively impacting upon improving safety and confidence of those who work, reside and visit HMP Birmingham.”
Previous operations have seen the police team conduct ANPR (Automated Number Plate Recognition) checks outside the prison, which is a main thoroughfare into and out of the city, as well as using the force drones to look out for potential criminal activity.