War-zone technology is being installed at NSW jails to combat the long-running problem of mobile phones and illicit drugs being hurled over supposedly secure prison fences.
The South Coast Correctional Centre at Nowra is part of a a three-year government program that will spend $20 million on implementing measures to combat the problem.
Thermal-imaging and motion-detection cameras - commonly used by the military in war zones such as Iraq - are being installed at five jails across the state to stop contraband from reaching convicted criminals.
Some relatives and friends of inmates use increasingly inventive ways to deliver drugs, such as stuffing them inside tennis balls or potatoes, senior Corrective Services sources told AAP.
At a Melbourne jail recently, a helicopter drone was used in an attempt to fly drugs in.Mobile phones, drugs and shoes have been lobbed over the fence into the minimum security area of the John Morony Correctional Complex near Windsor, northwest of Sydney.Inmates’ pals have used dense bushland surrounding the jail to dodge detection when fielding the contraband, some of which is then sold inside the jail.
‘‘Anybody that wants to move around through this particular area will now be caught using the sort of technology that has come from areas like Iraq,’’ NSW Justice Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters at John Morony prison on Tuesday.
‘‘Thermal technology can pick up movements, as has happened in war zones, but we’re using it to make sure prisoners stay inside, and those we don’t want in stay out.’’
Double perimeter fencing, new razor wire and more CCTV cameras are also being installed at parts of John Morony prison, upgrading previously minimum security areas to medium security.
The thermal imaging and motion detection cameras can tell the difference between a would-be drug thrower and a kangaroo, experts say.
Under a $20 million, state-wide, three-year government program, similar measures are being taken at Sydney’s Silverwater and Parklea prisons, at the South Coast Correctional Centre at Nowra and the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre at Kempsey.
Some of the jails will in future be used to house higher risk remand prisoners.NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said the state’s prison system was being brough into the 21st century.