The use of drones to attempt to smuggle contraband into Canberra's prison reached its highest level in 2019-2020, with the reporting year punctuated by the prison's first large-scale emergency lockdown and 644 seizures.
Three drone breaches at the prison were reported over the 12 months, including one during June this year when a prisoner left after evening curfew to retrieve a package.
ACT Corrections has still not disclosed how the detainee managed to leave the after curfew, whether the drone breach triggered an alarm, if contraband was recovered, or whether the CCTV footage of the incident identified the person involved.
Contraband seized by staff reaching a peak in August 2019 with more than 100 items seized, with most being drug-related.
Random and planned searches of locations inside Canberra's maximum security prison rose to 4234 during the latest 2019-20 reporting period, up by 197 on the previous period.
However, seizures of contraband fell inside the prison in 2019-2020, In all, 644 items of contraband were seized, down from 866 in the previous period.
The reporting period was a turbulent one for ACT Corrections and reached its most challenging time when a hole was cut in the perimeter fence in early November, resulting in the first long-running emergency lockdown of the jail in 11 years.
Not disclosed in the public report was the full details of the appalling lapse in security which resulted in the hole going undiscovered for around 24 hours.
There were two consecutive incidents within a four-hour period in November, with firstly the hole cut and a large package of contraband thrown between the perimeter fences into an area inaccessible to prisoners.
Alarms sounded but no investigation was made.
The same person who cut the hole then returned around four hours later - presumably after being tipped off from inside the prison that the contraband couldn't be retrieved - and then threw the package over a secondary fence and further into the jail yard.
The package was then retrieved and disappeared into the jail.
The subsequent seven-day emergency lockdown and extensive search turned up a range of contraband including mobile phones, hand tools, hacksaw blades, drugs and drug paraphernalia but Corrections were unable to determine whether this was part of the most recent package, or was already within the jail.
An internal management review was conducted, the outcomes of which were not disclosed.
Almost 900 detainee searches were reported during November last year, which indicates that some prisoners were physically searched more than once in an effort to locate the contraband.
Drugs, mobile phones and SIM cards were among the most common items seized by prison staff, although no details were provided on the raft of additional contraband discovered.
Issues within the Alexander Macononchie Centre jail have compounded more recently, with another emergency lockdown initiated last month when 27 inmates refused to return to their cells for the evening.
They lit several fires and damaged CCTV cameras during the costly incident.
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