Dedicated Operation at HMP Forest Bank targets criminality within prison walls and beyond
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Earlier this year, a targeted operation - known as Op Dragonfire - took place to tackle gang members operating from inside Forest Bank Prison, following an increase in contraband being thrown over the prison walls.
Following the overwhelming success of the operation in April 2021, which was led by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), HMP Forest Bank and HM Prison and Probation, further work has been carried out to tackle those in prison continuing criminal activity from inside the prison walls.
During the seven-day operation which took place between Monday 20 September – Sunday 26 September, 10 phones were seized, along with sim cards, cannabis and tobacco.
Intelligence was gathered on those suspected of carrying out criminal activity from within Forest Bank, which led to a series of targeted cells searches at the start of the week. Five cells were targeted which led to the discovery of 7 phones and a USB stick which has been submitted to forensics.
Following the cell searches, a range of tactics were used to target those responsible for throwing illicit items over the prison walls from outside, as a result, there was one arrest, and seven packages designed to be thrown over were intercepted. One was opened, and contained:
8 sim cards
Cannabis valued at approx. £800
The remaining 6 packages have been submitted to forensics for further investigation.
Detective Superintendent Danny Inglis, Lead for Serious and Organised Crime at Greater Manchester Police, said: “The activity carried out as part of Operation Dragonfire is vital. Access to mobile phones can allow prisoners to continue to operate as part of organised crime groups, giving them the means to coordinate criminality both inside and outside of the prison. This can compromise security, posing a risk for fellow prisoners, prison staff and the general public.
“A lot of planning and hard work went into the operation and the quantity of contraband recovered, as well as the successful arrest, highlights how impactful this targeted activity has been. We believe that the week’s positive results will lead to a reduction in organised criminal activity and violent incidents within the prison, and we look forward to seeing future results as we continue to work collaboratively with the prison.
“I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate to those involved that communicating with prisoners using illegal mobile phones is a criminal offence. The activity conducted this week should serve as a stark warning that we have a zero tolerance toward this kind of behaviour and anyone involved in such activity will be arrested and prosecuted.”
Ian Whiteside, Director at HMP Forest Bank, said: “Illegal use of mobile phones is one of the most significant security threats faced by prisons and we are constantly reviewing our activity to tackle the issue at HMP Forest Bank.
“Multi-agency operations like Dragonfire have a massive impact and we will continue to work intensively with our colleagues at GMP and HMPPS to disrupt organised crime networks undermining prison discipline and safety.”