By Lisa-Anne Crookes
Wednesday October 08 2008
New measures have been introduced to stamp out gang activity and criminal business operating from behind bars.
To counter the gang networking carried out in jail, prison officials have introduced new security and intelligence schemes.
Dermot Ahern, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, said measures were being put in place in response to pressure for action on organised crime gangs that operate their empires from prison.
"A number of recent initiatives have been introduced with a view to preventing identified gang leaders from conducting their business while in custody and also to prevent them exerting inappropriate influence over other persons," he said.
"For example, a number of serious criminal gang members are now segregated in a specific area of Cloverhill Prison," he added.
Also, a new intelligence-gathering operation has been established inside prisons -- which insiders say is set to seriously hamper crime operations.
"An operational support group has been established. A core function of this group is to gather and collate intelligence information on criminal gang members in our prisons and to carry out intelligence-led searches on them," a Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed.
The main new initiative introduced by Irish prisons in recent months, to combat the rise in gang activity behind bars and in a reaction to a series of embarrassing gaffes, has been the clamp down on mobile phone use in jails.
"The pilot mobile phone blocking scheme in the Midlands Prison is now nearing completion with the expectation that inhibitors will be installed in all our closed prisons over the next 18 to 24 months," said a Prison Service spokesman.
The spokesperson said that the system had enjoyed positive feedback and would be expanded to include other prisons.
"This new technology is not available anywhere else in the world."
- Lisa-Anne Crookes