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Province introducing enhanced security measures at troubled London jail to address drug overdoses

Ontario's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Michael Tibollo answered questions from reporters after an announcement at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. .
Ontario's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Michael Tibollo answered questions from reporters after an announcement at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. . 980 CFPL

London’s troubled jail is rolling out some enhanced security measures that government officials hope will begin to address the growing number of drug overdoses within the facility.

Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services made the announcement Friday morning at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

READ MORE: London police investigate another inmate death at EMDC

Minister Michael Tibollo outlined several new security processes meant to stop contraband from entering the jail, including a new dedicated canine unit.

The drug-sniffing dog named Jax, who can detect 10 different scents, will get some help from a new piece of technology which staff will be trained to use.

Tibollo said the EMDC will be one of the first institutions to test the feasibility of ion scanners.

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“Ion scanners are a non-intrusive search tool that can identify trace elements of drugs,” he said. “The scanner will be used to confirm the existence of contraband on inmate property whenever the dog sniffs out a potential illegal substance.”

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The EMDC will also be using new drug detection kits, and piloting a dedicated hospital escort team for inmate health-care needs.

READ MORE: Rally outside London jail demands better care for Ontario’s inmates

Tibollo said they will be adding more correctional staff, particularly at admission points, and more health-care workers.

He refused to say how many, or what kind of health-care workers they will be. He also wouldn’t comment on the cost of these initiatives, only saying that the government is using resources already in the system.

“We are over-viewing everything, as you know, through our line-by-line review,” Tibollo said. “The hole that we were left with and the things we have to do, our commitment is to utilize the resources in a responsible way.”

READ MORE: Smuggled key from EMDC shows ‘poorly managed’ provincial jail: lawyer

There were a dozen drug-related inmate overdoses at the EMDC in August.

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