POLICE have seized drugs and weapons including a knuckle duster during a series of stop and search checks at HMP Hewell.

Officers from West Mercia Police's local policing priority team (LPPT) south performed a series of checks at the Tardebigge prison last week.

The team was undertaking drugs enforcement action, using prison powers to search visitors and vehicles.

The photo, which has been supplied by the LPPT, shows a 'lighter' seized from a visitor to the prison which resembles a knuckle duster decorated with skulls.

As a result one person was interviewed under caution for possession of an offensive weapon along with possession of a class B drug.

The searches involved partnership working with HM Prison and Probation Service, officers from Bromsgrove and the use of a search dog.

A spokesman for the LPPT said officers seized weapons, drugs and made an arrest for drug driving.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Drugs threaten the safety of our prisons and this successful seizure shows that our work with West Mercia Police to restrict the supply at HMP Hewell is paying off.”

The Government released its Prisons Drugs Strategy on Thursday (April 4) with the aim of reducing drug misuse in prisons.

The aim is that it will also better protect staff and prisoners, and create conditions for offenders to turn their lives around.

This follows the investment of an additional £70 million over the past year in prison safety, security and decency.

This includes a number of measures to tackle drug supply, such as security scanners, improved searching techniques, phone-blocking technology and a financial crime unit to target the criminal kingpins operating in prisons.

In the 12 months to March 2018 the number of incidents where drugs were found in UK prisons increased to 13,119 incidents from 10,666 in the previous 12 month period, an increase of 23 per cent.

In the 12 months to March 2018 there were 10,643 incidents where mobile phones were found in prisons and 4,729 incidents where SIM cards were found, this is an increase of 15 per cent and 13 per cent respectively compared with the previous 12 month period.

Psychoactive substances were found in 4,667 incidents in the 12 months to March 2018, more incidents than any other drug category in this time period. However, the increase in the prevalence of this drug in prisons only saw a small increase of 2 per cent compared with the previous 12 months period. In contrast, the second most common known drug category found in prisons were class B drugs, for which the prevalence increased by 42 per cent to 2,592 incidents over the same time period.

The illegal use of mobile phones in prisons is one of the most significant threats facing HMPPS.

A prison service spokesperson said: "Illicit mobile phones carry high levels of reputational risk, undermines good order and control in prisons and perpetuates ongoing criminality.

"They are used by prisoners for a range of criminal purposes, including drug supply, witness intimidation, extreme violence, involvement in organised crime and successful escapes.

"Given the serious nature of these risks HMPPS has implemented an approach to minimise the number of mobile phones entering prisons, to find phones that do get in and to disrupt mobile phones that cannot be found."