Dutch policy against contraband in prisons ineffective: Inspectorate

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The approach to fighting contraband in Dutch prisons is not effective enough, according to a report by the Inspectorate for Security and Justice. Prison staff don't have enough time and find it increasingly difficult to keep contraband like drugs and cellphones outside prison walls, the Inspectorate concludes, ANP reports.

The Inspectorate investigated seven prisons. The researchers concluded that prison staff are actively involved in counteracting contraband smuggling and there is no suggestion of a free trafficking market. But improvements are necessary. 

For example, employees need more time and opportunity to conduct proper cell searchers. Several security officers also asked for additional training in detecting contraband and smuggling. The current anti-contraband measures of detection gates and baggage scans are also no longer always effective - particularly non-metal objects hidden inside a body can easily slip through. 

The Inspectorate advises the Ministry of Security and Justice to invest in new technology and to consider new methods and guidelines in dealing with contraband. 

In response to the report, State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice announced that a number of innovations aimed at countering contraband smuggling will be implemented in prisons. These include experiments with scanners that can detect objects on or inside the body and the use of specially trained dogs to detect phones. Dijkhoff also wants to give prisoners caught smuggling contraband more personally targeted punishments. According to him, whether a punishment like removal of privileges or confinement in an isolation cell is effective, very much depends on the personality of the prisoner in question. 

The VVD State Secretary has also been working on a proposal that will make smuggling contraband into a prison a punishable offense, which could carry a prison sentence of up to six months. 

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