Prison 'needs X-ray security to beat drugs': Children used for smuggling into private jail

SPECIAL X-RAY detection equipment is needed to stop the flow of drugs into the Wolds, a privately run remand prison in Lincolnshire, a new report said yesterday.

The board of visitors for the Wolds, which is run by Group 4 Remand Services, says in its annual report that although staff who searched visitors had been very successful in finding drugs, a machine would be even more effective.

The prison was attacked in earlier reports by the board and by the Inspectorate of Prisons for the amount of drugs on the premises. The lack of activity among prisoners - who cannot be ordered to work because they are on remand - is also criticised by the board.

Mary Bentall, its chairwoman, said yesterday that visitors even used the clothes of their children and babies to smuggle in drugs - mostly cannabis, but also amphetamines, and syringes for injecting drugs such as heroin.

She said: 'It is so easy to hide drugs in the clothing of children. While staff can ask adults to take off their outer clothes if they suspect drugs, it is a much more sensitive matter with children. We don't really know how much drugs are getting into the prison, it is a very difficult matter to estimate. We don't see prisoners looking as though they are under the influence, but we know drugs are there.'

The report says that a rehabilitation unit at the prison aimed at weaning inmates off hard drugs had been closed because it was unsuccessful. Although it was hoped to spend the money for the same purpose within the whole prison, there was little evidence of drug users showing the motivation required to co-operate with ending their habit.

The report is also critical of the design of the building and says the site is too small to house the 300-plus prisoners it is designated to hold. It also criticises the lack of an outdoor sports field.

Echoing the comments made last year by Judge Stephen Tumim, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, that prisoners did little work, slept late and sunbathed, the board of visitors said most preferred 'a life of idleness' and were difficult to motivate, even for sports.

'Prisoners with plenty of money from outside sources have not found the pay of pounds 1 a day sufficient incentive in a situation where, as remand prisoners, they could not be required to work,' the report says.

The board also makes a special plea to the Home Office to turn its attention to the 'unacceptable' delays experienced by some prisoners awaiting crown court trial. Reducing delays, it says, would help to reduce the prison's population.