Skip to main content

Prisons: Drugs

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many visitors to prisons were found to be in possession of illegal drugs in each year since 1997; how many were referred to the police; and what action was taken in respect of those not referred to the police. (200242)

The Prison Service takes very seriously any attempt to smuggle drugs. The firmest possible action is taken against prisoners and visitors caught supplying drugs. The Offender Management Act 2007 creates a specific criminal offence of smuggling drugs into prisons. I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave on 26 November 2007, Official Report, column 89W.

A comprehensive framework is in place for dealing with visitors who seek to smuggle drugs through visits. The number of visitors suspected of involvement in drug smuggling incidents and the action taken internally by prisons along with the number of visitors arrested is detailed in the following table.

No record is kept of the number of visitors found to be in possession of illegal drugs but a good indication is the number arrested.

These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.

1999-20001

2000-07

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Visitors suspected of smuggling drugs

3,144

3,282

4,030

3,502

3,598

4,283

15,422

3,393

Visitors banned

2,464

2,584

2,941

2,625

2,730

2,092

3,574

2,729

Visitors on closed visits

322

333

627

625

528

880

1,374

494

Incidents involving visitor arrests2

735

509

529

405

456

444

440

383

1 The first year in which visits ban data became available.

2 Number of reported drug incidents in which a visitor was suspected of involvement and arrested by police. A particular incident may involve more than one arrest.

Data covering the 2007-08 financial year are not yet available.