Northern Ireland news

Prison officer (50) arrested over drugs in Maghaberry jail

A prison officer has been arrested on suspicion of bringing drugs into Maghaberry jail

A 50-YEAR-OLD prison officer has been arrested at Maghaberry jail on suspicion of bringing drugs into the prison.

The officer was among five people arrested yesterday by police investigating drug trafficking at the high-security prison in Co Antrim.

Police also seized drugs, £10,000 in cash and mobile phones and searched properties in Belfast, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, and Kinallen, Co Down, as part of their investigation.

In a joint operation with the Prison Service, police arrested the officer as he arrived for work at the jail yesterday morning.

He was being questioned last night on suspicion of bringing banned articles into a prison, misconduct in public office, possession of criminal property and being involved in the supply of Class A drugs.

A 28-year-old man and a woman (26) were arrested in Newtownabbey on suspicion of bringing banned articles into a prison.

The man was also arrested for possession of a Class B controlled drug and possession of fireworks.

In Belfast, a 55-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of crimes including having a Class B drug with intent to supply and bringing banned items into a prison.

The fourth person, a 50-year-old woman, was arrested in Kinallen on suspicion of possessing a Class A drug and possessing criminal property.

All five were taken to Musgrave police station in Belfast for questioning.

Ronnie Armour, head of the Prison Service, welcomed the joint operation with police, adding he wanted to "reiterate the zero tolerance drugs policy which operates within Northern Ireland's prisons".

PSNI Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs said the arrests and seizures showed police were committed to "removing harmful drugs from society".

Maghaberry, the north's only high-security prison, accommodates sentenced and remand prisoners and has segregated areas for paramilitary prisoners.

A damning report by Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI), published in November, raised concerns about the availability of illegal and prescription drugs at the jail.

Northern Ireland news

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