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New figures Prison chiefs made 1,251 drugs seizures in Irish jails last year

John Cuffe, a retired senior prison officer, said that in order to eradicate the problem, “you are going to have to change a lot of things”.

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Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

Mountjoy Prison's 'C Wing'.

A retired senior prison officer has said dramatic action is needed following revelations that there were over 1,200 drug seizures in Irish prisons last year. 

Three jails in Dublin topped the list, according to Freedom of Information figures released to Newstalk, with the highest amount in Wheatfield Prison.

There were 1,251 drug seizures in 12 jails across the state last year.

There were 479 drug seizures in Wheatfield, which has over 500 male inmates, with the next highest being the 319 in the men's section of Mountjoy Prison.

Cloverhill Prison, another jail in the capital, was the third highest at 207.

John Cuffe, a retired senior prison officer, said that in order to eradicate the problem, “you are going to have to change a lot of things”..

“I worked in Arbour Hill, a small prison, 120 people, (where) everybody was working, occupied, their days were full – we didn’t have a drug problem, absolutely not,” he said.

“If you go to Castlerea, if you go to Mountjoy, if you go to these other places where there is not enough work, not enough schooling, not enough gym, with pressure on staff and time and with boredom – people have time on their hands and all that and they are bored out of their skulls – drugs are going to get a foothold.”

He said keeping prisoners occupied is good for inmates and for staff.

There were 116 drug seizures in Limerick prison last year with Castlerea, Cork, and The Midlands all recording at least 30.

The total amount of seizures across all jails was exactly the same in 2020 as in 2019, at 1,251.

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