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Prisons: Drugs

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 14 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of prisoners receiving methadone treatment are serving sentences of (a) less than three months, (b) between three and six months, (c) between six months and one year, (d) between one and two years and (e) more than two years. (308211)

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not yet available.

A joint Home Office, National Offender Management Service, National Treatment Agency and Department project has redesigned the Drug Information Record (DIR) and Prison Activity Form which came into use on 1 April 2009, therefore mechanisms are now in place for prisons to collect baseline data on the number of drug users in effective treatment.

Section 5.2 of the new DIR collects the following information:

If the length of sentence is:

less than one year;

between one to four years; and

more than four years.

As this data collection only began in April 2009 it will not be until 2011-12, when the data improvement project has had a chance to take effect, that data on methadone prescription by sentence length is likely to be sufficiently robust to produce reliable data.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many persons have been convicted of (a) attempting to smuggle and (b) smuggling drugs into prison in each of the last five years. (310701)

Recorded and published crime data relating to the supply and attempted supply of drugs offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 are not disaggregated to those involving prisons. Obtaining the detailed data as requested would require contacting prisons, police forces and courts and could be done only at disproportionate cost.

From 1 April 2008, in order to strengthen the penalties for smuggling contraband into a prison, an offence under section 22 of the Offender Management Act 2007 was created for the conveyance of drugs into a prison. The offence carries a penalty of up to 10 years and or an unlimited fine. Other offences relating to conveying other contraband into a prison were also created.

From April 2009, indictable and triable-either-way offences contained in the Offender Management Act have been included in the Home Office Counting Rules for Recorded Crime. Offences under the Act are recorded by police and will be published in next year's annual statistical bulletin, Crime in England and Wales (July 2010).

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what percentage of staff at adult prisons are searched for illegal substances on arrival at work. (310702)

To provide the information requested would involve collating information from all prisons in the adult estate which could be done only at disproportionate cost.

The National Offender Management Service’s (NOMS) policy requires that in all prisons, procedures are in place for the searching of prisoners, staff, domestic, official and professional visitors and contractors, which are capable of detecting all items of contraband, including illegal substances. These arrangements must be set out as part of a written local security strategy agreed with the regional manager.

While the searching of staff will be carried out in all prisons on entry, the level and frequency of such searching at individual prisons is determined by local security and control needs and is set out in each prison’s local searching strategy.

In the majority of prisons this will mean a programme of routine searches of staff in addition to searches based on suspicion or on receipt of intelligence. In some prisons, particularly some open prisons, a better use of resources may be achieved by carrying out only targeted, intelligence-led or random search programmes.