Illicit items flood prisons …due to absence of scanning machines to check smuggling by visitors, inmates

The lack of scanning machines at the country’s prisons contin­ue to affect the Service’s efforts in preventing the smuggling of illicit items into the cells by inmates and visitors, Chief Su­perintendent of Prisons Courage Atsem, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of the Ghana Prisons Service, has disclosed.

He indicated that the Service continues to conduct manual search on visitors and inmates at the point of entry and exit of prisons across the country.

Chief Supt Atsem added that the search was time-consuming and affected their opera­tions, explaining that the provision of scanner machines would help in the easy detection of illicit items.

In an interview with the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday, Chief Supt Atsem said the illicit items were retrieved and intercepted by officers on duty during hand search.

He said some inmates and visitors conceal illegal substances such as mobile phones, nar­cotic drugs in their private parts, wigs, canned foods, bars of soap and meals among others during search at entry points at the prisons.

“Some inmates conceal ‘contraband goods’ in the human system such as anus and if a search must be done it requires the presence of a medical officer based on serious suspi­cion,” he added

He said in the absence of these scanners, officers on duty have to be very vigilant on visitors and inmates to ensure they do not out­smart the officers on duty with such goods.

The Chief PRO said if care was not taken a weapon or any dangerous device could be sent into the cells which can pose danger to both the inmates and the Prison officers.

Chief Supt Atsem said perpetrators who were arrested by officers on duty were handed over to the police for prosecution to serve as deterrent to others.

He cautioned visitors to desist from attempt­ing to smuggle “contraband goods” into the cells for inmates.

Chief Supt Atsem appealed to organisations, philanthropists and institutions to help the Service to procure scanners for the service to help check the smuggling of such illicit drugs into the country’s prisons.

The Prisons Service since its establishment in 1969, has been operating without scanners.

BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI

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