Officers from GMP and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit have been assisting HM Prison Service’s North West Search Team and their cohort of patrol dogs in protecting the perimeter of HMP Forest Bank in Salford from illegal throw overs, as part of ‘Operation Dragonfire.’
‘Operation Dragonfire’ is a multi-agency response to preventing and investigating the conveyance of illegal items such as mobile phones, drugs, and weapons in Manchester Prisons.
On Saturday 26 June 2021 at just before 11am, five men in balaclavas were seen on CCTV throwing items over the prison walls, before making off on foot into Clifton Country Park.
The following month, at around 10am on Saturday 31 July, a group of four men wearing masks approached the outer perimeter of the prison. However, upon seeing police patrols approaching, they left the area on foot and headed into the Country Park, with one offender leaving his orange bike behind.
Officers are keen to trace those involved in throwing items, or those conspiring to throw items over the wall of the prison, and are asking for the public’s help to do so. Anyone who may have seen anything or anyone acting suspiciously in and around the country park on the weekends of Saturday 26 June or Saturday 31 July, is being urged to get in touch.
Detective Chief Inspector Claire McGuire of GMP’s Organised Crime Coordination Unit said: “This weekend was a great success, in that we had zero items thrown over the prison walls. These parcels that are thrown over are a real risk to the safety of prison staff, and to prisoners.
“Drugs such as spice are often an unknown entity, and can put prisoners’ health at risk whilst making them difficult to manage. Drugs as a whole can leave prisoners with large debts for which they then become exploited by other prisoners. Weapons can be used on other prisoners, and even staff, and mobile phones are also used to facilitate organised crime, intimidate witnesses and compromise the good order of the prisons.
“It is important that the police stand shoulder to shoulder with colleagues in the Prison Service and staff at Manchester prisons, to show that these actions will not be tolerated. We are actively investigating this kind of prison related organised crime, and will bring the offenders to justice.
“If you, or anyone you know has any information relating to this activity, or if anyone recognises the bike left behind on Saturday (31 July) you can get in touch with us via LiveChat on our website www.gmp.police.uk, by calling 101, or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Any piece of information, no matter how small could make a big difference.”