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​​Surveillance operation nets illegal tobacco that was bound for prison

Issued: Tuesday 21 February 2017

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Two minimum security inmates are under investigation after a Corrective Services NSW search operation seized tobacco with an estimated prison value of $4,500.

The Northern Special Operations Group at Cessnock Correctional Centre, in the Hunter region, was staking out the visitor’s car park yesterday when they intercepted two works-release inmates trying to collect the contraband from a garbage bin.

The find comes as CSNSW reminds prison visitors that there is a zero tolerance approach to tobacco smuggled into the state’s correctional centres, following a spike in the number of visitors caught red-handed.

​Corrections Minister David Elliott said smoking was banned by Corrective Services NSW at all correctional centres in August last year, reducing the harmful effects of tobacco smoke on hard-working staff.

“With smoking now banned in correctional centres, the value of tobacco to inmates is much greater,” Mr Elliott said.

“Corrective Services NSW is focused on detecting and intercepting all contraband in our prisons and takes a zero tolerance approach.

“The more contraband seized by staff means the less circulating among inmates.”

Assistant Commissioner of Security and Intelligence Mark Wilson praised the work of Cessnock’s intelligence and security officers and said in the past year, 223 visitors have been banned from correctional centres for two years for trafficking tobacco.

Mr Wilson said that while this case clearly showed that the visitors knew they were smuggling in contraband, in some cases visitors didn’t realise they were trafficking contraband because tobacco is legally available outside of prison.

“The consequences are very strong and can result in the loss of visiting privileges for up to two years,” Mr Wilson said.

“The visitors are often devastated when this occurs as they have no history of trafficking. This penalises inmates as well as visitors.

“Visitors – whether professional or personal – need to be reminded that it’s not OK to bring in tobacco.”

Yesterday’s search operation found 15 pouches of rolling tobacco that can be worth up to $300 each in a minimum-security prison. The search also netted:

  •  19 buprenorphine strips;
  •  2.2gm of a crystal powder;
  •  10 packets of rolling paper;
  •  Five syringes; and
  •  10 hypodermic needles.

Smoking is not permitted anywhere on the grounds of a correctional centre and complex including car parks and walkways.

Visitors caught bringing contraband into prisons face penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment and other drug-related charges. Another penalty is a ban on visits of up to two years.

For more information about the CSNSW Smoke Free Project, visit:http://www.correctiveservices.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/CorrectiveServices/smoke-free-prisons.aspx​