Dead rats have been used to smuggle contraband into a prison in England.
Three of the rodents were found inside the perimeter fence at HMP Guys Marsh in Dorset in what is thought to have been the first case of its kind.
Staff patrolling the prison opened the rats up after noticing that their stomachs had been stitched up.
They found that the rats’ insides had been removed and replaced with five mobile phones and chargers, three SIM cards, cigarette papers, and drugs including spice and cannabis.
The rats had been thrown over the prison fence and a prisoner had been waiting to collect them, according to the Ministry of Justice.
In the 12 months to March 2018, there were 13,119 incidents where drugs were found in prisons in England and Wales – a rise of 23% on the previous year.
The number of mobile phones found in prisons increased by 15% to 10,643 instances in 2017-18.
Criminals have previously used tennis balls and pigeons to try to smuggle contraband over prison fences.
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: “This find shows the extraordinary lengths to which criminals will go to smuggle drugs into prison, and underlines why our work to improve security is so important.
“Drugs and mobile phones behind bars put prisoners, prison officers and the public at risk.
“By toughening security and searching, we can ensure prisons are places of rehabilitation that will prevent further re-offending and keep the public safe.”
HMP Guys Marsh, a category C training prison for men, had a population of 384 last month and last year’s report by the Independent Monitoring Board found prisoners have “easy access” to mobile phones and “make calls at times to suit themselves”.