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Prisons: Smuggling

Volume 503: debated on Monday 11 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison staff were charged with disciplinary or criminal offences involving (a) importation of drugs, (b) importation of mobile telephones and (c) importation of other contraband to a prison in the most recent year for which figures are available. (308169)

According to centrally held records1 in the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), 10 staff were subject to formal disciplinary action for the conveying of prohibited items into prisons in the period 1 December 2008 through 30 November 2009. A breakdown of these cases is provided in the following table:

NOMS staff disciplined for conveying prohibited items into prisons


Number of staff disciplined



Mobile phones


Other contraband




Tackling the supply of drugs and mobile phones into prisons is a high priority for NOMS. Since David Blakey's report, “Disrupting the Supply of Illicit Drugs into Prisons”, was published in July 2008 good progress has been made in implementing Blakey's recommendations. We have also strengthened the law, through the Offender Management Act 2007 (implemented in April 2008), which makes it a criminal offence with a punishment of up to ten years' imprisonment for the conveyance of drugs, mobile phones or other prohibited items into a prison. There is also a range of offences used to prosecute staff in these circumstances, including misconduct in public office and possession with intent to supply.

The National Offender Management Service does not, though, record detailed information relating to charges or convictions for criminal offences in the form requested.

From April 2009 convictions under the Act have been included in the Home Office Counting Rules, which provide a national standard for the recording and counting of notifiable offences recorded by police forces in England and Wales (known as “recorded crime”). Statistics will be published in next year's Annual Crime Statistics Bulletin due to be published July 2010, and will provide a more accurate picture of the use of the Act.

1The data contained in the above table was extracted from the central Discipline Database and the Personnel Management Database, both of which are subject to the normal inaccuracies associated with any large scale reporting system. Any cases which are still ongoing, or subject to internal appeal, have not been included.