POLICE raided addresses in Renfrew and Paisley this week as part of a major investigation into drug dealing in jail.

A total of 15 people, including 10 prisoners, were arrested during Operation Hambo, which was launched following intelligence that drugs, in particular psychoactive substances, were being distributed behind bars.

The operation focused on activities at HMP Addiewell, in West Lothian, where it is claimed prisoners are involved in the drugs trade, supported by accomplices who still have their freedom.

Police executed warrants at three addresses in Renfrew and Paisley during swoops which took place on Tuesday and yesterday.

Officers detained three women, aged 57, 34 and 27, from Renfrewshire.

Ten men, aged between 19 and 35 and from within the prison estate, and a further two men, aged 34 and from North Lanarkshire and Edinburgh, were also arrested.

Drugs recovered as part of the operation included psychoactive substances, heroin, cocaine and synthetic and herbal cannabis.

Police said eight men within the prison estate were charged in connection with the possession of drugs, while a further two were charged in connection with the sale and supply of drugs.

Three were also charged with mobile phone offences.

The three women were charged in connection with the sale and supply of drugs, while the two men were charged in connection with the possession of drugs.

Superintendent Craig Smith said: "This successful operation is the result of extensive intelligence and evidence-gathering work conducted by our officers, staff within HMP Addiewell and colleagues at the Scottish Prison Service.

"I'd like to thank our partners for their dedication and support in tackling this issue.

"The proliferation of drugs within the prison estate is a serious issue which can severely hinder those individual's chances of rehabilitation and addressing their offending behaviour.

"Tackling the misuse of drugs and their distribution is a top priority for Police Scotland.

"Rest assured that, whenever such offences are brought to our attention, whether it's in our communities or our prisons, we will work with the relevant organisations to bring those responsible to justice."

Police Scotland said it is continuing to work closely with both Sodexo Justice Services, who operate HMP Addiewell, and the Scottish Prison Service.

Director of the prison, Ian Whitehead, said they would continue to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle the problem.

He added: "Police Scotland's early recognition of the problems posed by psychoactive substances in prison and associated criminal activity has allowed us to develop a unique partnership approach, taking robust action against those who attempt to introduce drugs to prisons."

Those arrested will be reported to the procurator fiscal.

Tom Fox, head of corporate affairs at the Scottish Prison Service, said: "We will continue to work with police and other agencies to address the problems caused by those trying to introduce contraband into prisons in Scotland.

"We devote a great deal of time and energy to tackling the problem of illicit drugs and other contraband entering the prison environment."