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Prisons: Drugs

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 203266, tabled on 18 December 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to prevent illicit drugs being brought into prisons.

Answered on

20 December 2018

Restricting access to illicit drugs in prison is crucial to preventing substance misuse and in turn supporting rehabilitation. We are investing £6 million in 10 of the most challenging prisons to tackle drug supply and reduce demand, learning from these prisons will be shared across the prison estate nationally and will inform future activity.

We have formed a Drugs Taskforce, working with law enforcement and health partners across government. The Taskforce is developing a national drugs strategy, underpinned by advice and guidance that will support the whole of the estate to restrict supply, reduce demand and build recovery.

We use body searches, standard metal-detecting scanners and drug detection dogs across the estate. We will be extending the use of x-ray scanners more widely across the prison estate to detect internally concealed contraband, such as drugs or mobile phones. We have recently invested an additional £7 million in modern technology, including extending the use of phone blocking technology and improved searching techniques.

We are working with the police to catch and convict criminals who smuggle contraband into prisons, and exploring additional security measures and new technology to stop these incursions. To date, there have been at least 45 convictions related to drone activity, with those sentenced serving a total of more than 140 years in prison.

We have also taken steps to restrict the supply and use of Psychoactive Substances (PS) since their emergence. We became the first prison service in the world to introduce innovative mandatory drug tests for psychoactive substances, a significant step in tackling the supply and use of them. We have made it a criminal offence to possess psychoactive substances in prison and trained more than 300 sniffer dogs specifically to detect these drugs. We have also provided guidance on how to counter the evolving methods used by suppliers such as impregnated paper.