Essex

Chelmsford Prison cardboard cut-outs 'a bit silly'

Cardboard cut-out police officer
Image caption The cardboard police officers were meant to deter prison visitors from smuggling contraband in

Life-sized cardboard cut-outs of police designed to deter people from smuggling contraband into a prison have been branded "a bit silly".

Chelmsford Prison said the figures were being used to "remind people of the consequences of breaking the law".

But Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the cut-outs were "insulting to staff".

The Prison Service has now made the decision to remove the 7ft (2.1m) tall figures "to avoid confusion".

Earlier a spokesman said there had been "no removal of CCTV" and the cardboard figures were "an additional measure only".

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'Bit of a joke'

Ms Crook said the cut-outs "sounded like a bit of a joke, but the trouble is there is a serious problem".

"I shouldn't think they cost very much, but it just makes the prison look a bit silly," she said.

"I think it's insulting to staff. They have to do a very professional, dangerous, difficult job, and we should be treating them with respect.

"Having cardboard cut-outs of coppers outside is insulting."

Image caption Earlier on, a Prison Service spokesman said other measures were in place alongside the cut-outs

The prison recently sent letters to nearby residents asking them to help stop packets of "illicit articles" being thrown over the jail walls.

Last month, a woman who lives near the prison said the problem of packages being thrown over the wall was "getting quite bad".

One former inmate said the jail was "notorious" for being "flooded" with mobile phones and synthetic cannabis.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A former Chelmsford Prison inmate said the jail was "notorious" for being flooded with contraband items

In 2010, a scheme involving cardboard cut-outs of police officers in shops, supermarket and petrol stations was scrapped after it failed to reduce crime.

The figures were installed in 2009 and were meant to be a relatively cheap way to deter would-be criminals.

At the time, Essex Police said the trial of the cardboard police officers had little impact on crime or anti social behaviour.

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