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Prisons (Drugs)

Volume 264: debated on Monday 23 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what initiatives have been taken at (a) Everthorpe, (b) Parkhurst and (c) other prisons to reduce illegal drug use in the past five years; and what initiatives are planned in the next two years. [38641]

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Richard Tilt to Mr. Paul Flynn, dated 23 October 1995:

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question on the initiatives taken (a) Everthorpe, (b) Parkhurst and (c) other prisons to reduce illegal drug use in the past five years; and what initiatives are planned in the next two years.
Everthorpe, Parkhurst and all Prison Service establishments are required to develop a local drug strategy and an action plan for its implementation by the end of 1995.
A number of initiatives have been implemented at Everthorpe to reduce illegal drug use. The prison has developed and continues to receive community linked counselling services from the Substance Abuse Referral Unit (SARU) at York and the Drug Action Response Team (DART) in Hull. The prison has also developed a voluntary drug testing unit which provides support for prisoners who agree to stay off drugs during their sentence.
Mandatory Drug Testing was introduced at Everthorpe earlier this year. Further security and control measures planned for the future include the introduction of a drug detection dog and the implementation of new searching strategies in line with the Woodcock report. Everthorpe will continue their involvement with SARU and DART and will continue to work with community drug agencies to tackle drug misuse.
Parkhurst has made significant progress in improving the security and control measures designed to reduce the level of drug misuse. Drug sniffer dogs have been trained and employed for use in searching all parts of the prison used by prisoners as well as visitors. Two visitors this year have been charged by police following drug finds on their person.
Similar progress has been achieved in implementing measures to reduce the demand for drugs in Parkhurst. The health care team offers a range of services to prisoners with drug problems. A detoxification programme has been set up for identified prisoners. Recently between twelve and twenty prisoners have been receiving medical treatment for drug addiction. A contract with the community drug agency provides for a drug counsellor to come to Parkhurst on a weekly basis.
A rehabilitation orientated regime is planned for the near future and a dedicated drug unit is also planned for chaotic drug users which will act as a day centre and community clinic for prisoners with drug misuse problems.
On 8 April 1991 all Prison Service establishments were issued with a guidance manual on the management of drug users. The manual focused on helping staff who were involved in responding to the needs of drug misusers. It included guidance on detoxification, the use of methadone, multi-disciplinary team working, counselling and HIV.
From 1994 reducing the level of drug misuse became one of the Prison Service's strategic priorities. A new strategy was developed with the main aim of reducing the supply of drugs, reducing the demand for drugs and rehabilitating drug misusers and reducing the potential for the damage to health arising from the misuse of drugs. This strategy was issued to all establishments on 26 April 1995.
All prison establishments are reviewing their immediate operational requirements for dealing with drugs in prison. They have begun to set up the multi-disciplinary drugs teams which have to produce a local drugs strategy agreed between the governor and the area manager by the end of the year. In the meantime headquarters support is being given to a number of pilot treatment projects and to the introduction of mandatory drug testing (MDT) throughout the prison system, which is scheduled to be implemented across all establishments by the end of March 1996.
Other measures to reduce and control the supply of drugs include use of CCTV, drug sniffer dogs and enhanced search procedures.
This year the Prison Service is substantially expanding the number and type of drug treatment programmes and services available to prisoners. The schemes include therapeutic communities, dedicated treatment units, detoxification, education, counselling and thoughcare.
In the wider context, officials from the relevant departments have started to tackle the practical implications of securing a smooth transition for those who need it between treatment in prison and treatment in the community. Training is being provided for drugs strategy teams and, at a more specialist level, for health care staff and medical officers. An information package for prisoners and prison staff is being devised.
From 1996 local prison establishment drug strategies will be examined to ensure that they are consistent with the national strategy and will be subject to audit by area managers. The Prison Service will include the reduction of drug misuse as one of its Key Performance Indicators in the 1996–99 Corporate Plan, and will specify a relevant key target in its 1996–97 Business Plan together with an action plan to meet the new target.