Six cannabis plants, 196 sim cards and 164 knives - what’s been confiscated at Norfolk’s prisons?
Hundreds of drugs, including Spice, knives and phones have been confiscated in Norfolk and Suffolk prisons, amid a surge in the amount of contraband being found.
At Norwich Prison, 37 knives were seized last year, up from just seven the year before, according to figures obtained by this newspaper from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
One firearm was also seized as well as seven other weapons.
A psychoactive drug called Spice, which is a synthetic cannabis substitute, appears to have become the drug of choice amongst inmates with 39 seizures last year at Norwich, up from 32 in 2015/16.
Other drugs found included two cannabis plants, nine steroids and one tranquilliser.
Officers also confiscated six needles, seven syringes and seven pipes.
Other widespread contraband included 85 mobile phones and 63 chargers, as well as 51 sim cards.
At Wayland Prison near Watton, knives and drugs were more widespread. Spice was found 98 times last year, while alcohol was seized on 137 occasions.
According to the MoJ figures, the number of knives found trebled in a year to 130.
There has also been a surge in sim cards found from 34 two years ago to 144 last year.
Spice and mobile phones were found just once at HMP Bure on the former RAF Coltishall site.
It comes as prisons minister Sam Gyimah released figures showing drugs had been seized 750 times and phones and sim cards almost 1,500 at Norfolk and Suffolk’s five prisons in 18 months.
Mr Gyimah said he was determined to stop the flow of drugs into prisons.
The MoJ said the Government was “taking unprecedented action” to tackle the supply and use of drugs in prisons, including drug testing, the training of over 300 specialist drug dogs, and upgrades to CCTV cameras.
It has also made it a crime to have any psychoactive substances, such as Spice, in prisons.
General secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, Steve Gillan, said prisons were in crisis.
“These finds are just the tip of an iceberg. Our prisons are awash with drugs and illicit items because of Government year on year budget cuts,” he said.
He called for the Government to increase staffing levels to pre-2010 levels to improve safety.
Contraband has been brought into prisons through drones, being thrown over walls, by visitors and by new prisoners.