8 November 2019

Jail in lockdown as hunt goes on for contraband

| Ian Bushnell
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Alexander Maconochie Centre

The Alexander Maconochie Centre is being searched top to bottom for the contraband. Photo: File.

The ACT’s jail remains in lockdown today as officers scour the site for the contents of a parcel thrown over an inner fence after a hole was cut in the outer perimeter fence.

Executive Director of the ACT Corrective Services Jon Peach declared the Alexander Maconochie Centre’s (AMC) first three-day state of emergency on Wednesday afternoon amid speculation that firearms may have been smuggled into the jail.

But Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury attempted to hose down that concern on ABC Radio on Thursday, saying some items that could be from the parcel were drug-related.

“We are concerned that not all the contents of the parcel have been recovered,” he said.

The Minister said that given the uncertainty it was prudent to lock down the jail so a thorough search could be made and the safety of all staff at the centre could be ensured.

He confirmed that an Australian Federal Police officer had been refused entry to the jail on Thursday because he would not surrender his firearm as required by prison policy.

Mr Rattenburry said Mr Peach did not want firearms in the prison at this stage.

He said prison officers were working through the jail unit by unit and a NSW sniffer dog had also been brought in.

The perimeter fence is monitored by CCTV but officers had been unable to identify the person who had cut through the wire and tossed the parcel over the inner fence.

An internal management review had been launched immediately after the breach had been discovered earlier in the week and Mr Rattenburry said there undoubtedly would be lessons to learn from this.

But he said the incident was an unusual and extreme act that showed measures to block contraband entering the prison were working.

The lockdown will end only when Mr Peach is satisfied there had been a thorough search of the jail and it is considered safe.

A lockdown means prisoners are confined to their cells for 23 out of 24 hours, communications are restricted and no visitors are allowed, although court appearances and health appointments will continue.

The AMC is working closely with ACT Policing and the Inspector of Correctional Services office has been advised.


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