Contraband in prisons– scanner expected by year-end to beef up securityThe apparent collision between prison and Police Officers continues to be a deterrent to ongoing efforts by authorities to curb the smuggling of contraband into prison facilities across the country.Contraband found in the prison during a previous raidIn a recent interview with Guyana Times, Director of Prisons (ag), Gladwin Samuels, lamented and admitted to the struggles authorities are facing in detecting and weeding out corrupt officers from within the system.According to the Prison Director, efforts are constantly being made to rid the prisons of contraband but every time exercises such as raids are carried out and items seized, it creates the demand for more illicit items which some officers take advantage of and capitalise on.“We have been putting systems in place. There are standard operational procedures that guides the steps that must be followed when persons are entering the prison. But what is clear, there seems to be established syndicates – these are officers who are working in collusion with each other to facilitate the movement of these [contraband] items into the prison. We do not have the luxury of being able to have a gazette rank on every shift and in the absence of these persons who lend oversight, the persons on the ground tend to capitalise on these opportunities to carry out their illegal acts,” Samuels noted.Prison Director (ag) Galdwin SamuelsIt is believed that the smuggling of contrabands into the prison system remains a perennial problem because of the involvement of both prison and Police Officers in facilitating the illegal trade, which is said to be a “big business”.Back in May, five prison officers were in hot water for smuggling marijuana into the Lusignan Prison, while only last week a Policeman was caught attempting to throw more contraband into the holding area of the same facility.The Prison Director explained to this publication that this behaviour by these corrupt officers highlights the need for a lot of work to be done, not only within the security services but also at the level of the community and in the homes to put out morally conscious and ethical citizens into society.However, he did note that there are officers within the service who possess these qualities and are eager to see the upliftment of the prison service.Nevertheless, the Prison Director went on to outline that while several methods are there to gather intelligence in the prison environment, these efforts are hindered by the practice of officers who witness or are aware of such acts by their colleagues but chose to remain mum instead of reporting to higher authorities.Samuels further posited that because of this, it is difficult for authorities to identify these rogue officers and so they go on with their corrupt acts.ScannersIn efforts to further beef up security and prevent the smuggling of contraband into prison facilities, it was previously announced that steps are being taken to acquire scanners for the various penitentiary facilities across the country. In fact, Samuels told this newspaper that the first scanner is expected to be here sometime in December, while three others have been included in the 2019 Budget.The Prison Director explained the agency has been very specific in terms of the type of scanner it wanted based on detailed research conducted. However, he noted that they are currently ironing out some issues regarding it procurement.“In keeping with the procurement procedure, some objections were raised by some entities who would like to be eligible to provide the services with those scanners so that is where we are right now in terms of ironing out those glitches. But our position remains very firm in terms of the quality of scanners we are looking to have in the service and this is taking into consideration the quality of images that would be provided by the scanners and also the safety for staff who would have to deal with the scanners especially those persons who, because of their detail would be required to leave and re-enter the prison on a regular basis,” he said.Samuels noted that some personnel such as those who facilitate visits by prisoners’ relatives would have to be scanned a minimum of 15 times a day; as such, they would need a low-radiation scanner that would not affect the health of his officers.“So that is a critical component in terms of our consideration when it comes to the procurement of the scanners,” he stressed.The scanner that is expected later this year will be installed at the Camp Street Prison.