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Prisons: Drugs

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps are being taken to reduce drug usage in prisons. (247711)

The National Offender Management Service has in place a comprehensive drug strategy for prisons. It has three key elements:

i. reducing supply, through security measures and drug testing programmes;

ii. reducing demand, through targeted interventions for low, moderate and severe drug-misusers; and

iii. establishing effective through-care links to ensure continuity of treatment post-release in order to safeguard the gains made in custody.

The success of the drug strategy is illustrated by the reduction of drug misuse in prisons, as measured by the random mandatory drug testing (rMDT) programme. The positive rate for MDT has dropped from 24.4 per cent. in 1996-97 to 9.1 per cent. in 2007-08—a fall of 63 per cent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans there are to increase the number of places on courses for serving prisoners dealing with drugs and alcohol. (247712)

Prison drug treatment funding has increased year on year since 1996-97—up nearly 13-fold, with record numbers in treatment.

The Department of Health plans to increase the level of funding for the clinical elements of the integrated drug treatment system by £13.6 million in 2009-10 and a further £4 million in 2010-11.

The Government have established the Prison Drug Treatment Review Group, chaired by Professor Lord Kamlesh Patel, which will make recommendations for the continued development of prison drug treatment, informed by recommendations arising from a review of prison drug treatment funding conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2007.

A range of interventions are already available in prisons to support those with an alcohol problem:

clinical services—alcohol detoxification is available in all local and remand prisons;

where alcohol is part of a wider substance misuse problem, the full range of drug interventions are available;

a number of prisons run alcohol awareness courses;

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) run groups in around 67 per cent. of prisons;

some offending behaviour programmes address the underlying factors which occur in alcohol related crime;

an accredited 12-step alcohol programme is being run at HMP Bullingdon;

four accredited intensive interventions are being run at HMP Hull. Forest Bank, Glen Parva and Chelmsford based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy;

for those prisons(ers) involved in the roll-out of the Integrated Drug Treatment System (IDTS) a 90 minute alcohol awareness session has been developed; and

the young persons substance misuse service for 16 to 18-year-old prisoners has a particular focus on alcohol.

The Ministry of Justice has established a Working Group to develop proposals to increase the provision of alcohol treatment available in prisons.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners are on courses dealing with drug and alcohol abuse. (247713)

The number of interventions delivered in the last full financial year (2007-08) is shown in the following table. Individual prisoners will often receive more than one of these interventions.

Intervention type

Interventions delivered 2007-08

Intensive Drug Rehabilitation Programmes (starts)1


CARATs (substance misuse triage assessments)




Substance misuse detoxification programmes3


Maintenance prescribing programmes


1 Programmes available in prison are split into four main categories: cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), The 12-Step approach. Therapeutic Communities (TCs), Short Duration Programme (SDP)

2 Young People’s Substance Misuse Services—a specialist service for 15 to 17-year-olds

3 Drug and alcohol detoxification data cannot be disaggregated

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.

The National Offender Management Service does not collate figures on the number of prisoners accessing treatment services specifically aimed at their alcohol misuse.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many places on courses dealing with drug and alcohol abuse are available for serving prisoners in 2008-09. (247714)

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has in place a comprehensive drug treatment framework, based on the National Treatment Agency’s revised Models of Care, to address the different needs of drug-misusers in prison. The interventions available are designed to meet the needs of low, moderate and severe drug misusers—irrespective of age, gender or ethnicity.

Delivery targets for 2008-09 are given in the following table.

Intervention type

Delivery commitment made by all prisons (England/Wales) 2008-09

Clinical Services—entrants to detoxification and maintenance-prescribing programmes


CARATs—Substance-Misuse Triage Assessments (SMTAs) Conducted2


Drug rehabilitation programmes—entrants


Drug rehabilitation programmes completions (percentage of entrants)


1 DH does not record establishments’ delivery commitments, but national delivery is predicted to at least meet last year’s outturn of 58,809.

2 This excludes assessments made by Young People’s Substance Misuse Services (YPSMS).


Prisoners will often receive more than one type of intervention.

Prisons have in place a range of interventions to support those with an alcohol problem.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) does not collate figures on the number of treatment places specifically for alcohol misuse.