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Sniffer dog unit at Wheatfield Prison 'compromised' after false indications – report

The sniffer dog unit are used to detect the presence of drugs on any visitors to the prison.

Sniffer dogs used in the enhanced visitor screening measures at the prison.
Sniffer dogs used in the enhanced visitor screening measures at the prison.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE ANNUAL REPORT into the Wheatfield Prison says the dog unit is “compromised” and will need to be retrained due to false drug indications.

The Wheatfield Prison Visiting Committee, who drew up the report, finds that while the dog unit are an important tool in the control of drugs in the prison, they need to be retrained so they can “conduct accurate duties”.

The dog unit are used to detect the presence of drugs on any visitors to the prison.

If a sniffer dog detects drugs on a visitor and after a search, the visit will take place behind a glass screen, states the report. The gardaí are informed if someone is caught with drugs.

Wheatfield Prisons Minister for Justice at the time Dermot Ahern inspecting the drug-detection dog service during a visit to Wheatfield Prison in 2008. Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

The visiting area is a ”gateway for drugs to be brought into the prison” said the committee, who said that drugs in prison was a huge concern and “Wheatfield Prison is no exception”.

Visitors to the prison are subjected to scanners, searches, sniffer dogs, and their
bags are subject to X-Rays. Prison visits are monitored by cctv for review at a later stage.
The prison yards are covered with netting to prohibit articles being thrown from the
perimeter walls.

The prison has drug-free landings on offer to prisoners who wish to avail to stay there.

“We also feel that under no circumstances should prisoners that have not been cleared for these landings end up here. Vulnerable prisoners and visitors can be bullied and threatened to bring in drugs,” stated the report.

Facilities

The committee commended the facilities and upgrades in cell facilities, as well as the garden and nursery, which they said was of high quality.

However, the committee states that the library in the prison is a “much underused resource” adding that it is regularly closed.

Staffing the library seems to be one of the main reasons for the closure. “A rethink of the library resource is required,” they said.

Gyms at Wheatfield Prison in Tallaght The gym inside Wheatfield Prison Source: Photocall Ireland

The report finds that sports facilities in the prison are of a high quality. There is a gym, all-weather playing pitch and a sports hall where prisoners play sports such as indoor soccer and badminton. They are currently implementing indoor bowls for older prisoners and are looking at implementing a tag rugby programme.

Prisoners on basic enhancements get a minimum of one hour per week of physical exercise and those on enhanced get a minimum of two hours per week.

Read: Investigation launched after drone full of drugs touched down at Dublin prison>

Read: Officers who mistreated teens at St Patrick’s will not move to Wheatfield>

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