POLICE have launched a crackdown after prisoners in Chelmsford were caught smuggling mobile phones into cells.
The packages, known as “throw overs”, are smuggled into the prison after being thrown over the walls of prisons by people outside the prison – they are later retrieved by prisoners who are either serving sentences or on remand.
The drugs and mobile phones contained in the packages are then used as an alternative currency within the prison.
Prison officers have warned that contraband, such as drugs and mobile phones, can lead to violence, disorder or disciplinary problems within the prison community – as well as offering the potential for intimidation of victims of crime.
Detectives in Essex are working with their colleagues in HM Prison Service and have launched ‘Operation Skewbald’ to tackle the problems caused by ‘throw overs’ at Chelmsford prison.
As part of the continuing operation a 43-year-old Tilbury man was arrested last month for conspiracy to provide prohibited items within a prison. He is suspected of supplying three mobile phones over two occasions to a man serving a sentence for violence. The arrested man is on police bail until 19 December while the investigation continues.
A 22-year-old man and a 49-year-old man, both from Romford, were arrested on Tuesday, 15 November on suspicion of supplying five mobile phones over two occasions, to a man serving a sentence for burglary. They are believed to be a friend and the father of the prisoner. They have both been released on bail until 30 January 2012 while the investigation continues.
Investigating Officer, DC Cooper, said: “We are working with the prison to clamp down on these offences. Mobile phones have a far greater value within the prison than outside. They can allow offenders to remain in contact with other criminals and continue to conspire and plot other crimes from their prison cell. We have a number of further arrests planned and people responsible for ‘throw overs’ need to be aware that they are likely to be joining their friends and relatives on the inside.”
The Governor at HMP Chelmsford, added: “Operation Skewbald is a good example of how the Police and Prison Service are working together to tackle this problem. Anyone who tries to break the law by seeking to bring drugs or mobile phones into prison should be aware of the very serious risks that they are taking.”