The Justice Secretary David Gauke has announced a new specialist crime unit that will identify and freeze bank accounts linked to organised crime behind bars.
As part of the latest measures to battle against the gangs who fuel drug dealing and violence in jails, specially trained prison and police officers will use intelligence to monitor bank accounts for signs of forbidden transactions.
The unit, based in Peterborough, is now fully operational and will focus on this activity through the analysis of intelligence and work to quickly act against offenders suspected of involvement in criminal activity.
Inmates use banks on the outside world as the method of paying for drugs. These accounts can usually be identified through paper notes containing account details which have been found in cells or on phones seized from prisoners with transfer instructions.
The transactions are a form of money laundering and the unit will be focusing on targeting these, with them having the power to freeze bank accounts and start criminal proceedings against those involved.
Money laundering in prisons is widespread, with much of the activity taking place through individual, low-value transactions between external bank accounts as offenders settle debts generated illegally, mainly through the supply of drugs.
During the summer a £40 million investment in prisons was announced, that will bid to improve the safety and security in prisons. The investment includes a new £1 million digital tool to help identify, disrupt and disable gangs as well as the recruitment of more than 3,500 extra officers to tackle gangs and contraband behind bars.
Combined with other measures, this will disrupt the movement of illegal goods in prison and reduce the drivers of self-harm and violence.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “My message to kingpins is this: we are already blocking your phones, putting you in isolation and now we will make sure you can’t access your money.
“Dealing drugs in prison will no longer be profitable because we will find your assets and we will seize them.”