Imprisonment 'sees drug use begin'

 

One in eight prisoners developed a drug problem after being locked up in jail, inspectors said today.

A poll of a quarter of all inmates at Durham Prison last year found 13% had developed a problem with drugs since being held in the category B local prison.

The critical inspection also found that up to a third (33.3%) of prisoners were failing random drugs tests, more than a third (36%) thought it was easy to get hold of drugs and almost one in five (18%) thought they would still have a problem after being released.

Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, warned not enough was being done to tackle the problem which was linked to bullying and self-harm.

"The most troubling problem facing the prison was the availability of drugs," he said, adding it was not being tackled with "sufficient vigour".

Mr Hardwick said: "The availability of drugs was a significant cause of bullying in the prison. The supply reduction plan was out of date and there was a degree of complacency and a lack of rigour in tackling the problem."

He went on: "Efforts to reduce demand were also weak. The drug treatment service was poorly staffed and lacked leadership. Many qualified staff had left recently."

Inspectors also found "links between poor treatment and self-harm", with the report showing there were more than 250 incidents of self-harm in the nine months before the inspection in October last year.

The survey of 216 of the 928 prisoners (23%) at the North East jail last September found that, on average, one in five inmates (21.7%) tested positive during random drugs tests in the six months to August last year.

But this rose to 33.3% in both February and June, the figures showed.

The inspectors also expressed concern that only 53 of the 115 suspicion tests requested between July and September last year were carried out.

Mr Hardwick added: "HMP Durham presents a mixed picture.

"It has improved and some of the developments and new services it has in progress, in resettlement and purposeful activity for instance, are very promising.

"However, there are some areas, such as combating the supply of drugs, making sure prisoners get to activities, addressing diversity issues and taking a whole prison approach to resettlement, that we did not detect were being addressed with sufficient vigour."

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: "I accept that there is more to do, especially with regard to drugs, and the governor and his staff will focus on the areas identified for further improvement."

He went on: "Durham is currently subject to a competition process and major refurbishment, and I'm pleased that the chief inspector records that it continues to improve particularly in resettlement and learning and skills."

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "Violence, self-harm, drug abuse, excessive overcrowding, men and teenage boys locked up in dirty, graffiti-strewn cells for up to 20 hours a day only to face homelessness, unemployment and debt on release - not when it was rebuilt in the 1880s but this is Durham Prison today."

She added that, while the report was "not all bleak", it showed that the prison was "another in a line of Victorian jails buckling under overuse of remand, recalls and short sentences".

Ms Lyon went on: "Arguably use of effective community penalties and an end to overcrowding, rather than the added pressure of competitive tendering, would enable Durham jail to enter the 21st century."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor