Skip to main content

Prison Drug Treatment

Volume 473: debated on Monday 17 March 2008

The Government are committed to improving prison drug treatment. Effective prison drug treatment lies at the heart of reducing re-offending; reducing the harm to individuals, their families and the wider community caused by drug misuse; and in helping offenders to lead law-abiding, productive lives upon release.

I am today with the Minister of State for Health, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Dawn Primarolo), and the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis), announcing additional Department of Health (DH) funding for prison clinical drug treatment. £12.7 million was invested in 2007-08, this will rise to £24.4 million (actual) in 2008-09, £39 million (indicative) in 2009-10 and £43 million (indicative) in 2010-11. This additional funding, further developing the integrated drug treatment system (IDTS) in prisons, is aimed at improving the volume and quality of drug treatment with a particular emphasis on the first 28 days in custody and better integration with the community services to which most drug-misusing prisoners will return.

We are also pleased to announce that a national prison drug treatment review group will be established to oversee the continued development of prison drug treatment, informed by recommendations arising from a review of prison drug treatment funding conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) last year.

We are pleased that Professor Lord Kamlesh Patel from the university of Central Lancashire has agreed to chair this group which will consider the PwC recommendations in more detail, agree a single set of priorities and compile national guidance around the streamlining of the commissioning, delivery, funding and performance management of drug treatment for offenders. Lord Patel has made an important contribution both in his role as chairman on the Mental Health Commission and as a non-executive director on the board of the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse.

Considerable progress has already been made—funding for prison treatment has increased year on year (up 1008 per cent. since 1996-97), prison drug treatment services have developed rapidly in the past few years with record numbers engaged in treatment. However at the same time, delivery systems had become increasingly complex. In May 2007 the Secretary of State for Health and the then Home Secretary requested an urgent review of the use of existing resources for drug treatment in prisons. The objective of the review was to explore how existing resources could be used more effectively to ensure that that prison drug treatment services reduced re-offending and met the treatment needs for prisoners throughout their time in custody and in preparation for their release.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was appointed to undertake the review and their report was received in December 2007. The PwC report acknowledged the considerable investment in prison-based drug services over the last 10 years which had lead to major improvements, with many examples of excellent practice. But the report also identified the lack of a clear inter-departmental strategy; fragmented organisational arrangements for funding, commissioning, performance management and delivery of services; the lack of a clear evidence base for some services currently offered; and inefficiencies and gaps in services. The report recommended eight steps which should now be taken to build upon and improve the delivery of drug services to offenders in prison and to extract better value from the considerable resources invested.

The principal recommendation is to set up a national offender drug strategy group to commission a series of projects that would:

determine and agree the key outcomes needed for prisoners and offenders, both in prison and on release into the community;

establish a set of national minimum standards for drug treatment in prison;

identify opportunities for achieving efficiency savings to invest in prison and offender drug treatment services;

examine the case for prioritising some groups of prisoners and offenders;

develop the commissioning model at national, regional and local level;

develop a single health and a single criminal justice funding stream to target services more effectively; and

agree systems for improved information sharing to support better quality performance management and case management.

Copies of the executive summary of the PwC report, “Review of Prison-Based Drug Treatment Funding, December 2007” have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.