Criminals attempting to smuggle contraband into prisons have targeted roundsmen with contracts to supply inmates with newspapers and magazines.
Several independent home news delivery firms and retailers reported attempts to infiltrate their supply arrangements, while others reported that they had faced investigations from authorities tasked with tracking down how banned goods were making their way into prisons.
One retailer, who asked not to be identified, said they had several instances where people claiming to be ‘associates’ of inmates would come in with their own magazines with contraband hidden inside, asking for that specific copy to be provided to the inmate.
“Every time it’s happened, we report it to the prison immediately. The golden rule is to never let the magazine that’s being delivered to a prison pass through anyone’s hands but yours. That means never taking them off shelf and never accepting any from customers to deliver.”
Another said: “We had a visit from the police several years ago. They were asking us about our processes and about whether we’d ever agreed to take anything else in to a prison. We’d had the agreement for more than a decade and have always followed the rules and shown every caution.”
A senior industry source claimed a prison authority had even enquired into switching to a major newspaper and magazine provider due perceived risks in working with smaller firms which are based closer to the prisons and the families of inmates.
However, a third newsagent with a prison supply contract told Better Retailing there was no need for prisons to be concerned: “We’ve had people come in and ask if they can get a newspaper or magazine sent to someone they know inside, instead of using the official channel. Even though I think they are innocent requests, I’d notify the prison every time.
“There’s checks at every stage – orders have to go through the prison’s system before coming down to us. We don’t take orders, and everything that goes into the prison is checked thoroughly. Many newsagents have been providing this service to prisons for decades, so you’d struggle to find anyone else as reliable and trustworthy as us.”
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