Prison bosses in smuggling crackdown

HMP Hindley
HMP Hindley

Prison bosses have heralded a string of drug busts and mobile phone seizures at institutions such as HMP Hindley over the past year.

More than 200 kilos of drugs and 7,000 mobile phones have been confiscated by prison officers nationwide during the past 12 months.

I have been clear that the current levels of drugs, violence and mobile phones in our prisons are unacceptable

Prisons minister Sam Gyimah

No individual figures were immediately available for Hindley, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

But just last year the Bickershaw jail was the focus of a damning prisons inspection report, highlighting the fact that narcotics were apparently easier to obtain than essentials like clean bedding or library books.

The MoJ has insisted extra staff have been drafted in at Hindley to tackle the issues pinpointed by inspectors.

Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah said that the general problems with drugs and contraband within penal establishments would not be resolved overnight.

But he stressed that a £2 million investment had been made in additional technology to detect illegal drugs and phones, alongside the training of 300 specialist dogs within the prison system.

And Whitehall says it has sanctioned a recruitment drive for an extra 2,500 prison officers by 2018.

Mr Gyimah added: “I have been clear that the current levels of violence, drugs and mobile phones in our prisons is unacceptable.

“We have put in place a number of measures to help disrupt this illegal activity as it is an issue I am absolutely determined to resolve.

“These figures highlight the determination of prison staff to disrupt this behaviour, whilst at the same time sending a clear message that we will push to prosecute anyone who involves themselves in this kind of activity.”

“The issues within our prisons will not be resolved overnight, but we must make progress in tackling these problems. Bringing in more frontline staff is an integral part of that.

“The number of prison officers in post is on the rise, meaning we are on track to achieving the recruitment of 2,500 officers by 2018.”

Peter Dawson, from the Prison Reform Trust, said the figures were “eye-watering” and called on the Government to tackle the demand for drugs in prisons.

“Life in prison for many many people is simply too idle, it’s enforced idleness, it’s boredom, there’s no hope,” he added.

“Some people are going into prison with a drug problem, and some people are starting to use drugs as a way of coping.”