Jail reforms lead to drugs problem: Situation at Holloway 'dangerous and degrading'

HOLLOWAY prison's much-praised 'liberalisation' and innovative reforms have led to a serious drugs problem among its women inmates.

'The situation is becoming dangerous and degrading,' the jail's Board of Visitors says in its annual report.

Cell and body searches were proving ineffective at detecting and eradicating drugs - mainly cannabis but also heroin and cocaine. Even when there were strong suspicions that an inmate was intoxicated, it was proving impossible to provide evidence. 'Women who are drug free or are resisting their addiction are not being protected and feel let down by the Establishment,' the report says.

In a reference to the threat of the spread of Aids through the prison, it adds: 'The sub-culture, intimidation and the problems of shared needles must be faced and attacked.'

The report, which also criticises lack of adequate psychiatric care, insufficient funding for an adequate diet and racism, will come as a blow to the Prison Service agency. Holloway is regarded at the forefront of reform, designed to promote greater family contact and stop recidivism.

Indeed the Board of Visitors praises the changes that have made the jail a more humane place. Freda Evans, chairwoman, said: 'Holloway has made great advances over the past few years in its efforts to provide a more caring, rather than containing, service. The board would not in anyway want to see any greater restrictions imposed. The drug problems within the prison are simply a reflection of what is happening outside.'

Holloway's drug problems are not isolated. A recent report by Professor John Gunn, of the Institute of Psychiatry, found that one in 10 men and one in four women prisoners were hooked on hard drugs. More than 3,000 prisoners are convicted of drug offences.

Of those injecting before incarceration between 25 and 33 per cent are able to sustain their habit in jail.

Judge Stephen Tumim, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, has recently painted a picture of lawlessness at two men's prisons where drug abuse is rife. He, like those on the Holloway Board, accepts the downside of more home leave and a more relaxed regime is that it is easier for drugs to circulate. But he also shares their view that that the use of Draconian methods to combat abuse could create more problems of disorder than it solves.

Yesterday a spokesman for the Prison agency said it was aware of the drug problems throughout the service. Last month Mike O'Sullivan, the governor of Holloway set up a working party aimed at gradually introducing drug free zones into the prison in an attempt to eradicate it.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border