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Prisons: Drugs

Volume 504: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent assessment his Department has made of the merits of (a) maintenance and (b) abstinence-based drug treatment programmes for prisoners. (312905)

Contracts are in place with two groups of researchers for evaluation of different aspects of the Integrated Drug Treatment System (IDTS). This will include the impact of methadone maintenance in particular. The contracts were let in 2008 and each group of researchers will submit a final report by April 2012.

All accredited drug treatment programmes available in prisons aim ultimately for abstinence and are based on good practice found in the community. Offenders in custody are subject to drug testing and usually receive a range of interventions and support aimed at reducing reoffending. It is practically difficult to pinpoint the precise effect of any one of these interventions on overall drug misuse or reoffending. Evaluations to date specifically of prison drug treatment programmes run in England and Wales are limited and have not always met the highest methodological standards. However, they suggest that accredited programmes can reduce reoffending (Ramsay, M. (ed) (2003), Prisoners' Drug Use and Treatment: Seven Research Studies. Home Office Research Study 267. London: Home Office). International evidence supports these findings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners were participating in (a) maintenance and (b) abstinence-based drug treatment programmes on the latest date for which figures are available. (312906)

In 2008-09, 64,767 prisoners received a clinical drug intervention. Of these 45,135 received detoxification and 19,632 received a maintenance prescription for opioid dependency.

The table shows the number of commencements on accredited drug treatment programmes for the last period for which data are available. Data are not collected centrally on the number of individual prisoners enrolled on such programmes at any one time.

Although all accredited drug treatment programmes run in prisons aim ultimately for abstinence, the short duration programme (SDP) has been designed to be appropriate for prisoners undergoing clinical maintenance as well as those that remain abstinent.

Intervention type (2008-09)

Intervention starts (rounded to nearest 10)

12-Step Programme


Therapeutic Communities


Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) programmes1


Of which:

Short Duration Programme




1 Prisons have in place a range of CBT accredited drug programmes, including: PASRO (Prisoner Addressing Substance Related Offending), STOP (Substance Treatment and Offending Programme), FOCUS (high security prisons only) and the Short Duration Programme.