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Prisons: Drugs

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 32068, tabled on 19 March 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to halt drug supplies into prisons.

Answered on

24 March 2020

We are taking decisive action to improve security to: stop illicit items being smuggled in by prisoners, staff and visitors; to strengthen staff resilience to corruption; and to target organised criminals who exploit prisons as a lucrative illicit market. This package of measures is being funded through the £100m investment to tackle crime behind bars, announced by the Prime Minister last summer.

Enhanced gate security is being deployed to the most challenging prisons in the estate. Cutting-edge x-ray body scanners will target prisoners internally smuggling illicit items into prisons. We recently announced the first 16 sites to receive this equipment.

Whilst the vast majority of our staff are honest and hardworking, we are also investing new resource to step up our counter corruption capability and strengthen (in scale and reach) intelligence-led operations and investigations with law enforcement partners against those that present the greatest threat of harm to prison security and the community.

We will also equip sites with new technology and staff to enhance staff and visitor searching at the gate. We have already announced the first 7 sites for this provision.

We are fully supporting the Right Hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham’s Private Member’s Bill on Prisons (Substance Testing) which is due to have its second reading on the 15 May. This Bill will improve our ability to test for drugs across the estate and provide the appropriate support to prisoners using drugs.

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