Police and sniffer dogs in show of force as search hut opens at HMP Wayland
- Credit: Archant
Visitors to one of the county's biggest prisons will now be searched by officers and sniffer dogs after the opening of a new facility designed to deter and prevent the smuggling of drugs and contraband.
The new "Search Hut" at HMP Wayland was opened with a show of force during the police's "intensification week" focused on tackling county lines drug dealing, whereby London gangs expand territory by exploiting children and addicts to create distribution networks in county towns.
All 12 of the visitors who arrived were taken through the shed and patted down, with their bags and belongings subjected to a fingertip search, before keen-nosed drug dogs were given a chance to check for telltale signs of possession of drugs, or tobacco which is also illegal within prisons.
None of the 12 were found to have any contraband on them.
But just as with county lines drug dealing, often those caught up in the illegality are those least able to turn down the demands of senior gang members, or loan sharks.
Acting Governor Steve Garvie said: "Some people are under pressure to bring stuff in.
"By having something like this it's showing our dedication not to let that happen.
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"They can go back and explain to whoever is putting them under pressure that it just isn't possible to get drugs into this prison."
HMP Wayland in Breckland is already one of the most secure prisons in the country because its out-of-town location allows for a large 'footprint' with a strong perimeter.
Unlike in a city centre jail it is almost impossible for a passer-by to throw anything into the grounds of the prison.
But until recently prison guards had no facility in which to search the men, women, and children who come to see friends and family members serving time and often searches were ad hoc and not conducted in private.
During the intensification week, officers in Norfolk arrested 14 people in relation to drug offences and four have since been charged.
Detective Inspector Robin Windsor-Waite said: "We have a team of specialist officers working around the clock monitoring county lines activity and tracking-down the individuals who control the lines”.
It comes after we
made more than 2000 drug dealing arrests in recent years amid a first-of-its-kind crackdown on county lines, using new investigative techniques reliant on mobile phone records.
Despite police efforts, some people who live in communities blighted by drugs say they still face anti-social behaviour on their doorsteps.
-Read the latest from our series of reports on county lines in Saturday's newspaper and on our website