Shadow Minister for Corrections Giulia Jones said prisoners in the ACT are accessing a “dial-a-drug” service after a drone was caught dispensing contraband in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) at the start of June.
ACT Corrective Services (ACTCS) said it received intelligence on 21 June regarding the alleged introduction of contraband by a drone in early June. A subsequent review found evidence of one detainee exiting a cottage to presumably retrieve a package.
A Justice and Community Safety Directorate (JACS) spokesperson said it would be inappropriate for the Directorate to provide further details during an active investigation.
“ACTCS is taking all necessary actions in response to the identified security risks to prevent future occurrences and to investigate this incident,” the spokesperson said.
Ms Jones says she has heard reports of drones delivering contraband at least once a month, but this is disputed by JACS.
“ACTCS has no evidence that drone activity within the AMC is occurring on a regular basis. Since November 2019, there have been three recorded sightings of drone activity at the AMC,” the spokesperson said.
A state of emergency was declared in the prison last November after an unknown person cut a hole in the prison fence with bolt cutters and threw an item into the prison grounds where it could be accessed by prisoners.
A subsequent internal management review found that “human error” was to blame after the incident occurred over a four-hour period.
Ms Jones says the smuggling of contraband and drug-fuelled incidents have made the prison an impossible place to work for guards.
“I am here to give voice to the very frustrated guards and some very frustrated inmates who would like to do their time and come out better than they came in, and that is not possible at the moment while the Government is running a dial-a-drug service from inside the prison,” she said.
“People are calling in sick because they are afraid of what is going to happen. Punishments are not being meted out for those who break the rules inside the prison.
“You would expect that drug urine tests would show a lower prevalence of drugs in the prison at the moment because we have been constantly told that one of the main sources of drugs is the visitors centre, which has not been operating as per usual.”
It is a point that is disputed by JACS.
“ACTCS does not have evidence of increased illicit substance use at the AMC since the suspension of social visits due to COVID-19,” the spokesperson said.
“A decline in contraband discovery has been recorded since social visits were suspended and staff reporting would indicate a reduction in the presence of illicit substances.”