Drugs and violence on the rise in prisons

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DRUGS and violence are rife in the country's jails, according to the latest Home Office figures. Last year there were 100,700 breaches of prison discipline - 12 per cent more than in 1992, writes Heather Mills.

The news came the day police announced that more than 21 former inmates had been charged as a result of the lengthy investigation into last September's riots in Wymott prison in Lancashire.

The men face charges including prison mutiny, affray, violent disorder and criminal damage.

With the prison population at 49,821 and continuing its steady increase, staff having to deal with overcrowding fear prison offences will also continue their upward trend.

Last year drugs were found in most jails, leading to a total of 14,700 recorded offences - a 29 per cent increase. There were 2,540 assaults on prison officers and 1,822 attacks on fellow inmates, accounting for about 12 per cent of disciplinary problems. The only category of prison offences that did not rise was escapes, with 296 recorded last year.

Most offences were dealt with by making prisoners serve extra time or by reducing their prison earnings.