At least one prohibited item – including homemade weapons, heroin and legal highs – is being confiscated in Tayside’s jails every day.
The number of items removed from cells at HMP Perth and Castle Huntly near Longforgan during searches by prison officers has increased, with 736 items seized in the past two years and Prison Services putting the rise down to increasingly effective detection methods.
Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Of course there will be public concern over the amount of prohibited items finding their way into HMP Perth and Castle Huntly.
“However, if the increase in detections is down to better screening then that is something to be welcomed.
“Nonetheless, the prison service must remain vigilant to ensure that contraband doesn’t make its way inside.
“Ensuring that prison is a safe environment is extremely important and crucial to prisoner rehabilitation and therefore it is important to get this right.”
There were 236 items seized in Perth prison in 2015 and 285 last year which included mobile phones; homemade weapons; homemade tattoo pens; drugs including heroin, cannabis and unauthorised medication; and drug paraphernalia.
At the open estate at Castle Huntly there were 95 items removed in 2015 and 120 last year including mobile phones and accessories; drugs such as heroin, cannabis, unauthorised medications and legal highs; and drug paraphernalia.
It’s a criminal offence to take mobiles or weapons into prisons and visitors are warned as they enter to leave such items at security points.
In December, gangland killer James McDonald, 43, from Glasgow, had an extra nine years added to his life sentence, for an attempted murder behind bars with a knife made out of plastic at Perth prison.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how McDonald teamed up with fellow lifer James Bell to attack inmate James Anderson in May 2015.
McDonald slashed and stabbed Anderson with a homemade weapon, fashioned out of a piece of plastic.
A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said: “A comprehensive range of security measures are in place to prevent the introduction of contraband into our prisons.
“Given the significant investment we have made in the development of new technology and staff training to detect, deter and reduce the availability and supply of contraband and prohibited items, an increase is not unexpected.”
Detection efforts can include scanners, mobile phone detection equipment, drug dogs, enhanced front-of-house security and intelligence-led searching.