Holme House: Prisoners walked out in dumpsters in drug smuggling plot

A prisoner hid in an industrial bin and was taken away with the rubbish in a brazen plot to smuggle drugs into a prison in the North East, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Two inmates have been isolated and disciplined after officers caught them frolicking on CCTV and stopped them bringing a shipment of prescription drugs into Holme House prison in Stockton.

Another prisoner told the Echo the drugs would have been worth hundreds of thousands of pounds inside – although the Ministry of Justice said the street value was much lower.

Read more: Expelled from class for drugs, sexual misconduct and weapons

This prisoner said he witnessed numerous attempts to smuggle contraband into the prison, from packages left at the perimeter to drones dropping drugs.

But the boldest plot he saw was one that began with bundles full of contraband thrown over the fence.

This is where the bins were put – and sometimes, he claims, a prisoner came out with them.

The prisoner climbed into the unpleasant hiding place and waited to be taken out with the garbage cans.

He would then snatch the illicit loot and wait patiently inside the trash can while waiting for a co-conspirator in the prison to hand over the trash can again.

“When they realized what was going around, the screws started checking the CCTV and grabbed them,” our source told the Echo.

He estimates the loot that ended the plot could have been worth hundreds of thousands of pounds inside.

However, a prison service spokeswoman said the market value of the prescription drugs seized was much lower.

She added: “All those involved have been arrested and steps have been taken to tighten security.”

Read more: Thousands of assaults in Northeast prisons

Robert Preece, communications manager at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said drugs were a “scourge” in prisons.

He added: “Where there is drug abuse, there is also debt and violence, and we know that the number of confiscations recorded by staff does not tell the whole story of the scale of the problem.”

The Prison Service spokeswoman said a recent drop in contraband seized at Holme House meant that tight prison gate security, X-ray body scanners and extra search patrols were working to stop items illicit drugs that fuel crime behind bars.

She added: “We have invested £100m airport-style security that has already blocked over 20,000 contraband attempts entering prisons.

HMP Holme House’s Drug Crime Reduction Unit won the National Prison Officer of the Year award last year for their proactive work in stopping contraband entering the prison.

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